Supreme Court has imposed a token fine of Re 1 against lawyer Prashant Bhushan in the contempt case for his tweets against the judiciary.
Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Monday said that he will respectfully pay the fine imposed on him by the top court in a contempt case. Bhushan, however, maintained that his tweets were not intended in any way to disrespect the judiciary, Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of India.
“While I reserve the right to review the judgment, I will respectfully pay the fine,” he said while speaking at a press conference. Bhushan added that every Indian wants a strong judiciary and “if the court gets weakened, it weakens the republic”.
“My tweets were not intended to disrespect SC but were meant to express my anguish at what I felt was deviation from its sterling record… This is a watershed moment for freedom of speech and seems to have encouraged many people to speak out against injustices,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court imposed a token fine of Re 1 against Prashant Bhushan in the contempt case for his tweets against the judiciary. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra asked Bhushan to deposit the fine by September 15, failing which he will attract a jail term of three months and debarment from law practice for three years.
“Freedom of speech cannot be curtailed but rights of others need to be respected,” said the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari.
The verdict said not only the bench had persuaded Bhushan to express regret but Attorney General KK Venugopal had also opined that it was in the fitness of thing that the contemnor should express regret. The bench also noted that the statements of Bhushan submitted in the court were released to the media before they were taken on record.
The Supreme Court had on August 14 held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his two derogatory tweets against the judiciary and maintained they cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in public interest.
Bhushan in his statement had refused to offer an apology to the Supreme Court for the tweets, saying what he had expressed represented his bona fide belief which he continued to hold.