Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who has been held guilty of contempt of court, has moved the Supreme Court to defer the hearing on sentence on Thursday, pending consideration of the review application, which he intends to file within the limitation period, in the "interests of justice".
In an application filed through advocate Kamini Jaiswal, he submitted that human judgement is not infallible, and despite all the provisions ensuring a fair trial and a just decision, mistakes are possible, and errors cannot be ruled out.
What Prashant Bhushan's application says
In criminal contempt proceedings, this court functions like a trial court and is also the last court. Section 19(1) gives a statutory right of appeal to a person found guilty of contempt by the High Court. The fact that there is no appeal against an order of this court makes it doubly necessary that it takes the utmost precaution to ensure that justice is not only done but seen to be done," said his application.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Bhushan in the 2009 contempt case in the apex court, had submitted before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra that Bhushan may file a review against the August 14 verdict which held him guilty of contempt of court.
Bhushan contended that "there would be gross injustice since there would be no occasion to examine the correctness of the findings arrived at in a suo motu criminal contempt proceeding before putting the convicted contemnor's liberty at stake".
The application says that failure to provide an opportunity to him to seek review of the August 14 verdict would be in violation of his fundamental rights. "It is respectfully submitted that the deferment of the said hearing, as prayed in the present application, would be in the interests of justice in view of the underlying public policy with respect to safeguarding liberty of a citizen under Article 21 till such time as his first appeal (in this case the review application) is considered," said the plea.
Bhushan said he seeks to file the review within 30 days from the date of judgment, as he is entitled under the law.
Why SC holds Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt
The Supreme Court on August 14 held activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his "derogatory" tweets criticising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the judiciary.
The apex court is yet to decide on the quantum of punishment, and the hearing on the sentence is scheduled on August 20.
On July 22, the top court had issued notice to Bhushan on the alleged contemptuous remarks on Twitter. The top court also asked the Attorney General to assist it on the matter.
"We are, prima facie, of the view that the aforesaid statements on Twitter have brought the administration of justice in disrepute and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the Institution of Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large," said the court in its order.
(With agency inputs)