Pay Re 1 fine or remain in jail for 3 months: SC punishes Prashant Bhushan in contempt case

The Supreme Court on Monday (August 31) ordered lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan to pay a fine of Rupee 1 by September 15 as punishment in contempt case. The top court ordered Bhushan to pay the fine by September 15 or he will be jailed for 3 months and debarred from practising for 3 years.

On August 14, Bhushan was held guilty of criminal contempt for his two derogatory tweets against the top court. While convicting Bhushan, the SC had said that tweets posted by Bhushan cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary.

The punishment was announced by a SC bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, who is set to retire on September 2.

On August 25, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan had requested the SC to show “judicial statesmanship” and not make Bhushan a “martyr” by punishing him. It is to be noted that Bhushan has repeatedly rejected calls from the SC to issue an apology for his contemptous tweets.

During the last hearing, Justice Mishra had asked why Bhushan cannot seek an apology and what was wrong in apologising. Attorney General K K Venugopal had urged the SC to not punish Bhushan and forgive him with a message that he should not repeat this act. Venugopal had also suggested Bhushan to withdraw all statements and express regret.

On August 20 the SC had granted time till Monday to Bhushan to reconsider his “defiant statement” and tender “unconditional apology” for the contemptuous tweets.

On August 24, Bhushan had filed a supplementary reply before the SC mentioning that he believes that SC is the last bastion of hope for protection of fundamental rights. Bhushan had also said in his supplementary reply that if he retracts a statement before the apex court that he otherwise believe to be true or offer an insincere apology then it would amount to contempt of his conscience and of an institution which he had always respected.