New Delhi [India], July 27 (ANI): Around 131 well-known personalities, including former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Bhimrao Lokur, retired bureaucrats, Delhi High Court retired judges, educationalists have made an appeal to the Supreme Court to drop the suo motu criminal contempt petition against advocate Prashant Bhushan.
The development comes as the Supreme Court has taken up a suo motu criminal contempt matter against Bhushan for his alleged tweets. Bhushan had on June 27 accused the Supreme Court of playing a part in the "destruction of India's democracy" in the last six years.
The personalities, in their letter on Monday, expressed concern and said Bhushan has been a relentless crusader for the rights of the weakest sections of our society and has spent his career in pro bono legal service to those who do not have ready access to justice.
"He has fought cases at the Apex Court on issues ranging from environmental protection, human rights, civil liberties, corruption in high places, and has been an outspoken champion for judicial accountability and reforms, especially in the higher judiciary," the letter said.
"In the past few years, serious questions have been raised about the reluctance of the Supreme Court to play its constitutionally mandated role as a check on governmental excesses and violations of fundamental rights of people by the state, the letter highlighted," it added.
The letter said that questions have been raised by all sections of society including media, academics, civil society organisations, members of the legal fraternity, and sitting and retired judges of the Supreme Court.
"Most recently, the Supreme Court's reluctance to intervene in a timely manner to avert the migrant crisis during the lockdown came under intense public scrutiny. Concerns have also been raised regarding the decision of the court to not restart physical hearings, even in a limited manner, despite the passage of five months since the onset of the COVID pandemic," it said.
We urge the judges of the Supreme Court to take note of these concerns and engage with the public in an open and transparent manner, the personalities said adding that the initiation of contempt proceedings against Bhushan appears to be an attempt at stifling criticism.
They sought that the institution must address these genuine concerns and said that an institution as important as the Supreme Court must be open to public discussion without the fear of retribution or action of criminal contempt.
"Therefore, in the interest of justice and fairness and to maintain the dignity of the Supreme Court, we urge the Court to reconsider its decision to initiate suo-moto contempt proceedings against Prashant Bhushan and to withdraw the same at the earliest," the letter said. (ANI)