My lawyer & senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan contributed 1 Re immediately after the contempt judgement today which I gratefully accepted pic.twitter.com/vVXmzPe4ss
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) August 31, 2020
A three-justice bench of the Supreme Court on Monday imposed a token fine of Rs 1 on activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan over two tweets critical of the judiciary.
The three-justice bench directed Bhushan to pay a fine of Rs 1 by September 15.
If he failed to do so, Bhushan would have to undergo three-months prison sentence and would be debarred from legal practice for three years.
The contempt case against Bhushan over the tweets had captivated national attention ever since he was convicted by the Supreme Court on August 14.
Despite the conviction, Bhushan had refused to apologise or express regret for his statements, even though the bench led by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justices Krishna Murari and B.R. Gavai asked him to reconsider.
Punishment for contempt of court can include simple imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or both under Contempt of Court Act.
Reading the judgement, Justice Mishra noted Bhushan’s act of releasing his statement to press before it was considered by the court amounted to “interference with administration of justice”.
The Supreme Court also referred to the call by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal for leniency for Bhushan.
“We have considered the sane advise given by the Attorney General, and have concluded that the conduct of present contemnor also needs to be taken into consideration,” the Supreme Court was quoted by Live Law as saying.
Last week, both Bhushan’s lawyer, Rajeev Dhavan, and Attorney General K.K. Venugopal requested the court to be considerate.
Dhavan had asked the Supreme Court to show “judicial statesmanship” and warned it against making Bhushan a “martyr”.
On the other hand, Venugopal asked the Supreme Court to show leniency to Bhushan and cited his record as an activist.
Interestingly, Bhushan is facing another contempt of court case over a magazine interview he gave in 2009.
Bhushan had alleged corruption among Supreme Court judges in the interview. Tarun Tejpal, who was the editor of the magazine at the time, is another accused in the case.
The same bench had been hearing the 2009 contempt of court case, but Justice Mishra, who is retiring this week, asked the chief justice of India to constitute a different bench for the case.
A new bench will take up this second contempt of court case on September 10.