Contempt case: SC refuses to entertain Prashant Bhushan’s plea to defer hearing on sentence

Prashant Bhushan (file image)

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain a plea filed by senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan seeking to defer the hearing on his sentence in a contempt of court matter, in which he was held guilty, till a review petition is filed and decided.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, was hearing arguments on the quantum of sentencing and a petition filed by Prashant Bhushan seeking to defer the hearing on sentencing. Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Prashant Bhushan, said that he is entitled to file a review in 30 days and added that conviction and sentence are two separate issues.

“It is a constitution of my right. This is a very fundamental question we are seeking from this court. Conviction and sentence are two separate issues. My appeal is very correct under judicial review and the sentence can be deferred,” Dave submitted.

The bench said that the judgement is only completed after the sentence. “We assure you that the punishment won’t be there, till you file the review petition,” Justice Mishra said.
“We will be fair to you, whether or not you are fair to us… Even if we punish you, it will not be activated given effect till the decision of review. We will be fair to you. We feel you are trying to avoid this bench,” Justice Mishra said.

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Dave said that “heaven is not going to fall if the sentence is deferred”.

“I believe that open criticism is necessary to safeguard democracy and its values. My tweets are attempts to discharge my duties, not else. My tweets need to be seen as an attempt for working for the betterment of the institution,” Bhushan said.

Advocate Dr Rajeev Dhavan, also appearing for Bhushan, asked the court what is the procedure to expose corruption in the judiciary when there is one?

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

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