SC to examine larger questions in Prashant Bhushan contempt case


New Delhi, August 17: In a 2009 case involving comments by lawyer Prashant Bhushan on judges, the Supreme Court Monday said it will examine larger questions including under what circumstances allegations of judicial corruption can be made.

The Supreme Court will also examine what procedure must be adopted in contempt cases if allegations of corruption are raised against sitting and retired judges, NDTV reported.

A three-judge bench led by Justice Arun Mishra said it would hear next week what lawyers had to say on these questions.

The contempt case involves statements that Prashant Bhushan made during an interview to Tehelka magazine in 2009, in which he said half the 16 Chief Justices of India were corrupt.

Justice Arun Mishra said: “We wanted to finish this. We wanted to end the case, but the basic question is – 1) if you want to speak to the media; 2) in case you have any grievance against any judge, what should be the process; 3) In what circumstances can such allegations be made is also a question.”

Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Mr Bhushan, argued that the use of the word corruption does not amount to contempt of court. Responding to the questions listed by Justice Mishra, he also called for referring the case to a five-judge constitution bench.

When Kapil Sibal, representing Tehelka magazine, asked the court to close the contempt case, Justice Mishra said there were questions that needed to be explored. “When some matter is subjudice, to what extent can the matter be argued through media or another mode,” he said.

The top court declined to accept the explanation and regret statement offered by Mr Bhushan over his 2009 interview.

Rajeev Dhavan also referred to the recent judgement in which Mr Bhushan was held guilty of contempt for his tweets against the judiciary and the lawyer-activist would file a review petition against the August 14 verdict.

Several opposition leaders like CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Nationalist Congress Party leader Majeed Memon and Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra had expressed their disagreement with the Supreme Court’s verdict.

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