The Supreme Court imposed a fine of Re 1 on activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan for criminal contempt of court for his tweets against the conduct of apex court and Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.
The bench of Justices Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari said that if Bhushan fails to deposit the amount by September 15, he will have to undergo simple imprisonment for three months and will be barred from practising for three years.
Earlier SC had reserved its judgment on August 25, after asking Bhushan multiple times to apologise for his tweets. Bhushan said he could not, in good faith, apologise, since he believed he had done nothing wrong, and his criticism was constitutional and valid. The bench was not satisfied with this response.
Though the court gave him time to “think over”, Prasant Bhushan defended that he will not apologise and in a statement on August 24 said that the views expressed by him through his tweets represented his good faith, beliefs and, so, an apology for expressing such thoughts would be insincere.
He said that “An apology cannot be a mere incantation and an apology has to be sincerely made. If I retract a statement before this court that I otherwise believe to be true or offer an insincere apology, that in my eyes would amount to the contempt of my conscience and of an institution (Supreme Court) that I hold in the highest esteem.”
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had asked the bench not to punish Bhushan and instead be “compassionate” in their treatment of him.