New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday while imposing a token fine of Re 1 on advocate Prashant Bhushan, who has been convicted in a contempt case for tweets against the judiciary, said it was not afraid of either sentencing Bhushan or of debarring him from practice.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari said: “We are not afraid of sentencing the contemnor either with imprisonment or from debarring him from the practice. His conduct reflects adamance and ego, which has no place to exist in the system of administration of justice and in noble profession, and no remorse is shown for the harm done to the institution to which he belongs.”
The bench insisted that it never attempted to coerce Bhushan to submit the apology, instead clearly mentioned that time was given to submit unconditional apology, “if he so desires”.
The top court also said it cannot retaliate merely because Bhushan has made a statement that he is neither invoking the magnanimity or the mercy of the top court, instead he is ready to submit to the penalty that can be lawfully be inflicted upon him.
“In our considered view, the act committed by the contemnor is a very serious one. He has attempted to denigrate the reputation of the institution of administration of justice of which he himself is a part,” added the bench.
The top court also emphasized that the faith of the citizens of the country in the institution of justice is the foundation for rule of law which is an essential factor in the democratic set up. The bench emphasized that lawyers are supposed to be fearlessly independent and robust but at the same time respectful to the institution.
In giving a quietus to the matter, the bench said it desired for the same from the very beginning. “Directly or indirectly, the contemnor was persuaded to end this matter by tendering an apology and save the grace of the institution, as well as the individual, who is an officer of the Court,” noted the bench.
“However, for the reasons best known to Bhushan he has neither shown regret in spite of our persuasion or the advice of the learned Attorney General. Thus, we have to consider imposing an appropriate sentence upon him,” added the top court.
The bench said Bhushan did not pay heed to the advice of the Attorney General to express regret and withdraw the wild allegations made through tweets. “Even our request made to him has gone in vain. Thus, we feel that the simple issuance of warning is not going to suffice in the instant case,” said the top court.
The bench said if it does not take cognizance of such conduct it will give a wrong message to the lawyers and litigants throughout the country.
“However, by showing magnanimity, instead of imposing any severe punishment, we are sentencing the contemnor with a nominal fine of Re 1 (Rupee one) to be deposited with the Registry of this Court by September 15, failing which he shall undergo a simple imprisonment for a period of three months and further be debarred from practising in this Court for a period of three years,” said the top court.
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