NEW DELHI: The expression of opinion, “nonetheless outspoken, unpleasant or unpalatable to some”, can not represent contempt of courtroom, activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan stated on Monday in his reply to a present trigger discover issued by the Supreme Court docket. […]
The highest courtroom on July 22 issued discover to Bhushan for listening to on August 5 the prison contempt proceedings initiated towards him for his two alleged derogatory tweets towards the judiciary, observing his statements prima facie “introduced the administration of justice in disrepute”.
In a 142-page reply affidavit filed by way of lawyer Kamini Jaiswal, the activist lawyer has referred to a number of apex courtroom judgements, speeches of former and serving judges on contempt of courtroom and the “stifling of dissent” in a democracy and his views on judicial actions in some instances.
Bhushan additionally stood by his two tweets.
“The respondent (Bhushan) states that expression of his opinion nonetheless outspoken, unpleasant or nonetheless unpalatable to some, can not represent contempt of courtroom. This proposition has been laid down by a number of judgments of the Supreme Court docket and in international jurisdictions similar to Britain, USA and Canada,” he submitted.
He additionally referred to the liberty of speech and expression beneath Article 19 (1)(a) of the Structure, and stated this proper was the last word guardian of all of the values that the Structure holds sacred.
“The connection between Article l9 (1A) and Article 129 (this offers energy of contempt to SC) is ruled by Article 19(2). Article l9 (2) (cheap restrictions) acknowledges the fetters that may be positioned on freedom of speech & expression beneath the courtroom’s energy to punish for contempt beneath Article 129.
“ ‘Cheap restriction’ being the operative phrase beneath Article l9(2), any train of contempt powers by the Supreme Court docket should essentially not be of a nature that goes past ‘cheap restrictions’,” Bhushan stated within the affidavit.
To forestall a citizen from forming, holding, and expressing a ‘bonafide opinion’ in public curiosity on any establishment that may be a creature of the Structure just isn’t an affordable restriction and violates the essential ideas on which our democracy is based, he stated.
The affidavit stated the facility of contempt beneath Article 129 of the Structure ought to be “utilized to help in administration of justice and to not shut out voices that search accountability from the courtroom for the errors of omissions and commissions”.
It stated that to curb constructive criticism from “individuals of data and standing” just isn’t a ‘cheap restriction’.
Stopping residents from demanding accountability and reforms and advocating for a similar by producing public opinion just isn’t a ‘cheap restriction’, it stated, including that the Article 129 can’t be pressed into service to stifle bonafide criticism.
The affidavit additionally raised objections associated to procedures on taking on the contempt petition filed by one Mehak Maheshwari on July 21.
Earlier, the apex courtroom had issued discover to Bhushan, and had additionally sought help of Legal professional Common Ok Ok Venugopal.
Whereas referring to the tweets by Bhushan, the apex courtroom had stated these statements are prima facie able to “undermining the dignity and authority” of the establishment of the Supreme Court docket basically and the workplace of Chief Justice of India particularly, within the eyes of public at massive.
Not too long ago, Bhushan filed a separate plea searching for recall of the present trigger discover of July 22 order within the contempt continuing initiated for his alleged contemptuous tweets towards the judiciary.
Concurrently, Bhushan together with former Union Minister Arun Shourie and veteran journalist N Ram have additionally moved the Supreme Court docket difficult the constitutional validity of a authorized provision, coping with prison contempt on the bottom of “scandalizing the courtroom”, saying it was violative freedom of speech and proper to equality.