SC issues notice to Prashant Bhushan in contempt plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued the notice to advocate Prashant Bhushan in connection with a contempt plea filed by Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal and the Centre.

In their plea, Venugopal and the Centre said that Bhushan, in his tweets, claimed that the AG and the government have “willfully and deliberately” mislead the court by producing fabricated documents and gave false statements in a case challenging the appointment of then interim CBI chief M Nageshwar Rao.

Venugopal told a bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha that Bhushan’s claims bear negative implications on him as the AG, arguing that Bhushan should not have gone public with his remarks.

“He (Bhushan) is going public in a pending matter. I don’t want any particular punishment but there should be a decision,” he told the court.

Justice Mishra agreed with the AG’s argument, saying, “Now it has become very common for decisions to be criticised in a pending matter. A lawyer who is arguing here goes out and makes such statements.”

“When we haven’t decided any issue and lawyers make statements, it may affect the public’ perception towards the efficiency of the court and the law and order system,” he added.

Justice Mishra also said that contempt is a weapon like the ‘brahmastra’ and it should not be used regularly otherwise it will lose its efficacy.

Criticising Bhushan, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “Lawyers rush to media saying today is a black day for the judiciary and that one cannot trust the judiciary. This brings disrepute to this institution.”

“They are ridiculing individual judges and saying that the judiciary has to be stopped. They have to be told that it’s the limit of our magnanimity and it has to be stopped,” Mehta added.

He also said that while the AG, who has attained the age of ‘Bhishma Pitamah’, does not want Bhushan to be punished, the Centre wanted stringent punishment for Bhushan.

The apex court has fixed March 7 as the next date for hearing the contempt plea.