Supreme Court shows limitation of words to Prashant Bhushan in contempt case hearing.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court had, in its judgment on August 14, held Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of court over his tweets.

The Supreme Court today rejected a plea by advocate Prashant Bhushan to defer hearing on sentence to be awarded to him for criminal contempt of court. Bhushan had prayed that hearing on sentencing against him should be deferred till a review petition which Bhushan was proposing to file against the August 14 judgment of top court which held him guilty of contempt of court, is decided.

“Heavens are not going to fall if your lordships defer sentencing till review is decided. There is no mandate under Supreme Court rules that the same bench should hear on sentencing,” said Dushyant Dave who represented Bhushan in the case.

Justice Arun Mishra, who is heading the three-judge bench and is set to retire from Supreme Court on September 2, responded saying it will be judicial impropriety for another bench to hear on sentence.

“We assure you that we will not do anything that will take away your right to review,” said justice Mishra.

Justice BR Gavai said that Rajeev Dhavan, also appearing for Bhushan, had informed the court on August 17 that review was ready and will be filed. “Why is it not being filed,” asked the judge.

Dave said there is no mandate that it should be filed within 24 hours and the time limit to file review is 30 days.

“If your lordships want me to file review in 24 hours, then the Supreme Court rules should be amended accordingly,” he argued.

Dave also said that the court should not hold counsel responsible for statements made in other matters.

“I beseech your lordships not to do that,” said Dave.

Before the hearing, Bhushan quoted Mahatma Gandhi in his statement. “I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal for magnanimity. I am here to cheerfully submit to any punishment that court may impose,” he said.

Justice Mishra conceded that contempt should be sparingly used.

“We appreciate all your efforts in filing good public interest cases. We welcome all that. But there is a Lakshman Rekha for everything. You are part of the system. You forget it. Why do you cross it?”

The bench also said that it will give 2-3 days to Bhushan to reconsider his “defiant statement”, refusing to apologise for his contemptuous tweets. The lawyer said he will consult his lawyers and think over the apex suggestion court.

After rejecting  application of Bhushan for deferment, the court proceeded to commence its hearing on sentencing. Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan is making arguments on behalf of Bhushan on the sentencing aspect.

The Supreme Court had, in its judgment on August 14, held Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of court over his tweets.