In the contempt case against Prashant Bhushan, who has been held guilty of tweets against the judiciary, the Supreme Court on Monday, August 31, asked the activist-lawyer to pay a fine of Rupee 1 by September 15 as punishment.
Pronouncing the order on the quantum of sentence, the apex court said in case Prashant Bhushan fails to deposit the fine of Re 1, he will have to undergo imprisonment for three months and will be debarred from practise for three years.
While handing down the sentence, the top court said, "Freedom of speech cannot be curtailed". "Freedom of expression is there, but the rights of others should also be respected," the top court added.
The SC also referred to "sane advice" from Attorney General KK Venugopal to the court and to Prashant Bhushan. "Ultimately we have considered the sane advice given by the attorney general to the court and to the contemnor," the SC said.
On influencing the independent judicial function...
The SC bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari observed that Prashant Bhushan had brought disrepute to the court by giving wide publicity to his statements in the press. "Publication of the second statement submitted by Bhushan was released in advance to the press. Was to influence the independent judicial function," the top court observed.
Prashant Bhushan convicted
Prashant Bhushan was convicted by the SC earlier this month for contempt of court over his two tweets against the judiciary. The activist-lawyer repeatedly rejected suggestions from the court for an apology, saying it would be contempt of his conscience.
The SC further said, "We gave several opportunities to (Prashant Bhushan) to express regret."
However, Prashant Bhushan in his statement, refused to offer an apology to the apex court for his two tweets against the judiciary, saying what he expressed represented his bona fide belief which he continued to hold.