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In Reply to Contempt Case, Bhushan Offers Detailed Critique of SC

Activist-lawyer says criticism of SC can’t be contempt, lists controversial decisions from last 4 CJIs’ tenures.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan has come out swinging in his reply to the Supreme Court’s contempt case against him for recent tweets, defending the views expressed in those tweets about current Chief Justice of India SA Bobde’s photos on a superbike, as well as his statement that the Supreme Court has played a role in the destruction of Indian democracy over the last six years.

“It is the essence of a democracy that all institutions, including the judiciary, function for the citizens and the people of this country, and they have every right to freely and fairly discuss the state of affairs of an institution and build public opinion in order to reform the institution.” - Prashant Bhushan’s affidavit to the Supreme Court.

In the reply affidavit dated 2 August, Bhushan has also provided a detailed critique of the Supreme Court’s decisions and decision-making to justify his opinion of the court, including a list of problematic incidents and orders of the court under the last four CJIs, broken down by their respective tenures.

The longstanding activist lawyer, who has advocated for judicial accountability and against corruption for several decades now, submitted that his criticism of the court has been “outspoken” but that it has been thought through and made “with the highest sense of responsibility.”

He has argued that what he tweeted is his bonafide impression of the way the court had been functioning in the last few years when it comes to transparency and acting as a check and balance against the government, especially the role played by the last four CJIs – Justices JS Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and the current incumbent, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde – when it comes to this.

“Such expression of opinion however outspoken, disagreeable or however unpalatable [to] some, cannot constitute contempt of court,” he says.

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