New Delhi, August 25: A new bench of Supreme Court will hear a 2009 contempt of court case against lawyer Prashant Bhushan for calling past Chief Justices of India (CJI) corrupt in a 2009 interview.

The matter was sent to a fresh bench in view of the fact that the presiding judge of the bench presently hearing the case, Justice Arun Mishra, is retiring on September 2 and will not have adequate time to address the legal questions raised by Bhushan in the matter, Hindustan Times reported.

“There is paucity of time otherwise we would have heard the senior counsel with respect to the questions which have been proposed. Let the matter be listed on September 10, 2020 before appropriate bench as may deem fit by the Chief Justice of India,” the bench which also comprised justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari ordered.

This same bench, on Tuesday, heard and reserved its judgment in another contempt of court case against Bhushan for his tweets against the top court and the CJI.

The 2009 case was invoked against Bhushan after he said that half of the past 16 CJIs were corrupt in an interview to Tehelka magazine.

Senior advocate Harish Salve brought this statement to the attention of the court based on which contempt action was initiated against him in November 2009. Former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal is also a contemnor along with Bhushan.

The case was listed by the top court out of the blue on July 24, 2020 more than 8 years after it was last heard. Bhushan refused to apologise for his statement but offered an explanation to the court regarding his controversial remark. The court, on August 10, rejected Bhushan’s explanation and decided to proceed with the case and hear it in detail.

When the case was heard on August 17, the court said that certain larger legal issues need to be settled including whether allegations of corruption against judges can be made by way of public statements and the procedure to be adopted when such allegations are raised.

When the case was taken up on Tuesday, Bhushan submitted a revised list of legal issues to be considered by the court and also prayed for reference of matter to Constitution Bench.

“There is shortage of time. I am demitting office,” Justice Mishra remarked before he proceeded to order that the matter be listed before an alternative bench.

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