NEW DELHI ― The Supreme Court’s verdict holding lawyer Prashant Bhushan in contempt of court was “bad news for free speech,” Indira Jaising, a senior Supreme Court advocate, and the first woman to be appointed Additional Solicitor General of India in 2009, told HuffPost India.
“While as feminists we know that the personal is political, but in law the personality of a judge must be split between the personal and the constitutional. This is an institutional requirement of justice,” said Jaising.
“The judgment obliterated the distinction,” she said.
Bhushan on Friday was held guilty of contempt over two tweets about Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and the Supreme Court.
Bhushan faces imprisonment for maximum period of six months, or a fine of up to Rs 2,000, or both. Arguments for the quantum of punishment will be heard on 20 August.
In the affidavit he filed on 2 August in response to the contempt notice issued against him on 22 July, Bhushan said that his 29 June tweet about a photograph of Chief Justice Bobde on a Harley Davidson motorcycle did not constitute contempt of court. “If it were to be so regarded, it would stifle free speech and would constitute an unreasonable restriction on Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution,” he wrote.
Bhushan said that he regretted only one part of that tweet.
“At the outset I admit that I did not notice that the bike was on a stand and therefore wearing a helmet was not required. I therefore regret that part of my tweet, he wrote.
On the 27 June tweet, Bhushan wrote, “it has three distinct elements, each of which is my bonafide opinion about the state of affairs in the country in the past six years and the role of the Supreme Court and in particular the role of the last four CJIs.”
“Such expression of opinion however outspoken, disagreeable or however unpalatable, cannot constitute contempt of court,” he wrote. “It is the essence of democracy that all institutions, including...