Prashant Bhushan. File.   | Photo Credit: PTI

In review plea, Prashant Bhushan says order has a sweeping effect

Review is a limited and rare remedy against a Supreme Court verdict


Advocate Prashant Bhushan filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on Monday against its decision finding him guilty of criminal contempt by ‘scandalising the court’ with his tweet on a picture of the Chief Justice of India on a heavy bike and another about the role of the court in the past six years.

Mr. Bhushan was punished with a nominal Re. 1 fine. He paid it by draft on Monday.

In his petition, Mr. Bhushan said the judgment finding him guilty of contempt had a sweeping effect. In fact, the verdict made “any and all criticism on the institutional role of the Supreme Court an offence of criminal contempt”.

The review is a limited and rare remedy against a Supreme Court verdict. The two grounds for review are apparent errors in the judgment and factual or legal mistakes.

Mr. Bhushan said the suo motu contempt was taken on the basis of a petition filed by a lawyer about one of the tweets. The petition seeking contempt action against him, however, did not receive prior approval from the Attorney General. Besides, the Attorney General was not heard extensively.

The contempt proceedings conducted through video conferencing failed the “fundamental due process requirements”. The court neither took into account nor allowed Mr. Bhushan an opportunity to prove his statement that truth was his defence. He argued that the power of contempt of the Supreme Court under Article 129 was not absolute.

Plea refers to letter

The review petition referred to a letter from Mr. Bhushan to the CBI about his reservations of having Justice Arun Mishra on the Bench hearing the contempt case. However, no action was taken.

“On several occasions, Justice Arun Mishra has orally accused Prashant Bhushan of committing contempt of court when he had merely mentioned that it may be inappropriate for a particular judge to hear a particular case in circumstances where conflict of interest was involved”, it stated.