The Bar Council of Delhi has decided to examine whether the tweets made by advocate Prashant Bhushan, which led to his trial and conviction for contempt in the Supreme Court, amount to professional misconduct meriting his disqualification, Bar and Bench reported on Wednesday. This is in line with a Bar Council of India resolution about Bhushan.
Consequently, on September 21, the Bar Council of Delhi issued Bhushan a summons. The senior advocate has been asked to appear before the council on October 23 at 4 pm. The letter said Bhushan may appear before the council either physically or virtually through videoconferencing. The proceedings will be conducted ex-parte if Bhushan does not appear.
Bhushan has also been asked to send his response within 15 days after the letter’s receipt as to why disciplinary proceedings may not be initiated against him under Sections 24A and 35 of the Advocates’ Act, 1961, for his tweets and the Supreme Court verdict against him. If he does not reply within the stipulated time, it will be assumed that he does not want to respond.
Section 24A deals with disqualification for enrolment, according to Bar and Bench. Under Section 35, if a disciplinary committee of the Bar Council of a state finds a lawyer guilty of professional misconduct, he may be reprimanded, suspended or removed from the council.
The contempt of court case against Bhushan
The case against Bhushan was based on two tweets from June. In one tweet, he made a remark about an undeclared emergency and the role of the Supreme Court and last four chief justices of India. The second tweet was about Chief Justice SA Bobde trying a Harley Davidson superbike in his hometown Nagpur during the coronavirus outbreak. On August 31, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had ordered Bhushan to pay Re 1 as fine in the case.
On September 14, Bhushan filed a review plea in the Supreme Court against its judgement in the case. In his plea, Bhushan argued that the right to appeal was a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution and international laws. He added that the appeal would act as a “vital safeguard against wrongful conviction and would truly enable the provision of truth as a defence”. However, he also paid the Re 1 fine he had been ordered to.
The advocate is also facing another contempt case. It relates to an interview Bhushan gave to the Tehelka magazine in 2009, in which he made allegations of corruption in the Supreme Court and said that half of the previous 16 chief justices were corrupt. On Thursday, the top court sought assistance from Attorney General KK Venugopal in case and deferred the hearing to October 12.