The Supreme Court of India (Source: Supreme Court of India Website)

Activists Approach Supreme Court To Support Prashant Bhushan In Contempt Case

More than 10 civil society members and journalists including writer Arundhati Roy, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and veteran journalist N Ram have approached the Supreme Court for being allowed to argue in the contempt case filed against senior advocate Prashant Bhushan by the Attorney General for India.

The members argued that the top court has made it clear that it will discuss the issue of public discussion of pending cases by lawyers. “The notice issued in this case by the court to Prashant Bhushan indicates that the court wants to deal with the larger issue of lawyers and litigants commenting publicly about pending court proceedings and whether any restraint should be put on lawyers and litigants comments on pending court proceedings,” said the intervention application filed in the Supreme Court.

While issuing the notice to Bhushan in the contempt case, the Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, had observed that it may be possible that in certain cases, especially in criminal trials, the reputation of a person may be affected due to public discussions on sub-judice cases by the lawyers as the accused may be acquitted later.

“The applicants feel that any restraint on lawyers and litigants on commenting on pending court proceedings in matters of public interest would have a seriously deleterious impact on not merely the freedom of speech of lawyers and litigants but also on the right of the people and civil society to be informed about pending court proceedings which are of public interest. The applicants feel that lawyers and litigants involved in the cases are usually the best Informed about the proceedings and therefore they are most likely to provide accurate information about the proceedings,’’ the intervention application said.

In the contempt case, the Attorney General had said that certain tweets related to the case where the appointment of former interim Central Bureau of Investigation Director M Nageshwara Rao was being challenged constitute contempt of court. He, however, did not seek any punishment for Bhushan and said the court should discuss the issue of lawyers commenting on pending cases.

The case will come up for hearing on March 7.