The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved the verdict on the quantum of sentence to be given to advocate Prashant Bhushan, convicted for contempt of court for his tweets against the judiciary.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari reserved the verdict after a detailed hearing on the matter.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Bhushan, contended before the bench that the top court can say that it does not agree with Bhushan and that he should exercise restraint while making statements in the future.
To this, Justice Mishra said: “We thank you, Dr Dhavan. Even Prashant Bhushan has shown respect in some part of his statement.”
The bench, referring to Bhushan’s refusal to apologise for his tweets, asked: “What is wrong in apologising? Is this word so bad?”
During the hearing, the bench also gave 30 minutes to Bhushan to think over his stand for not expressing regret in connection with the tweets.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal submitted before the bench that his suggestion would be to close the matter without punishing Bhushan.
At this, Justice Mishra observed that for how long the system would suffer this. The bench noted that judges are condemned and their families are humiliated. “They cannot even speak,” noted the bench.
The top court told Bhushan’s counsel that it expects him to be impartial. “You may have love and affection for anyone… but we want you to be fair. Don’t take sides,” said Justice Mishra.
Dhavan argued that the top court could say in the judgment that it did not agree with Bhushan. He also insisted that nobody can be forced to tender an apology in a contempt proceeding and added that the Harley Davidson remark made by Bhushan was hardly criticism.
The top court could say in the judgment about the kind of code people should follow, but the idea should not be to silence Bhushan, he said.
Dhavan reiterated that the bench should not make him a martyr, as he has not committed murder or theft.
The AG, meanwhile, insisted that the top court should forgive Bhushan and take a compassionate view on the matter. The bench noted that a person should realise his mistake and cited that it gave time to Bhushan, but he refused to apologise. The AG said Bhushan should withdraw all statements and express regret.