A well-known Indian lawyer and civil rights activist Prashant Bhushan was convicted on August 14 for two tweets against the current Chief Justice SA Bobde and past four CJIs which the Supreme Court found was based on distorted facts that constituted a scurrilous, deliberate and malicious attack on the top court, and shaken the foundation of the judiciary, was sentenced to a nominal fine of 1 rupee.
It seems that the one-rupee fine confirms the guilty. The Supreme Court’s ruling has puzzled many of us about the #PrashantBhushan case. Paying a fine of ₹1 pleads guilty. In other words, if he fails to pay, he will be sentenced to 3 years + 3 months in prison. It’s like a chess game where heads I win; the tail you lose. It clearly shows SC has checkmated Prashant Bhushan.
In fact, the most surprising part is that fine is also cheaper than a cost for using a Sulabh Sauchalaya, and costs civic body charges for other facilities provided at public toilets. The usage charge for public toilets is usually 2 to 5 rupees per person, and the bathing charge is 10 rupees.
This is an extremely cruel joke for Indians and law-abiding citizens. Obviously, the Supreme Court seems to have compromised, succumbed to bullying and pressure tactics, and does not care about law or justice. All previous hearings in India’s apex court turned out to be a comedy show.
The anti-public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan‘s case criticized the Supreme Court and its chief justice on Twitter and was seen as a test of freedom of speech in the world’s largest democracy.
WHAT IS THE CASE ABOUT?
The Supreme Court filed a lawsuit against Bhushan on July 21. Judges Arun Mishra, Krishna Murari, and B R Gavai deliberated the case and gave a brief hearing on July 22, the case was adjourned to August 5, so that Bhushan could prepare his answer.
The case involved the following tweets by Bhushan on his Twitter handle:
- On June 27 he tweeted: When future historians look back over the past six years and see how democracy in India has been destroyed even without a formal state of emergency they will especially commemorate the role of the Supreme Court in such destruction. & especially the last four CJI roles.
- On June 29, he shared an image of CJI Bobde sitting on a Harley Davidson superbike and commented the Chief Justice of India was sitting on a bike belonging to a BJP leader without a helmet or mask; at the time when the apex court of the country, “denied citizens’ basic right to access justice” because it was in lockdown mode.
SC said that these tweets made the administration of justice into disrepute and nefarious in the eyes of the entire public and undermined the dignity and authority of the Supreme Court institutions in general, especially the office of the Chief Justice of India.
The judge imposed a fine of 1 rupee to show the world that he is under some pressure from the ruling government to act on those who tell the truth and expose the government’s failure.
As Bhushan’s tweet spread widely, Chief Justice Bobde’s office was forced to clarify that CJI wanted to purchase one of the Harley Davidson bikes after retiring and asked his current dealer who is currently in Nagpur, to show him it.
The dealer sent him his bike, but CJI tried it without taking a ride and said that he didn’t know to whom it belonged. It seems like he forgot, Bhushan said on Twitter, that it belongs to the BJP leader.
Merely a coincidence:— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) June 28, 2020
The bike which Hon’ble Chief Justice is riding has registration number CG05BP0015.
The bike is registered to Rohit Sonbaji Musale, son of Sonba Musale who is a BJP leader from Nagpur & was their nominee in the 2014 Assembly polls from Saoner.
Small world. https://t.co/Ctx5p5cAvL pic.twitter.com/PKBwyo2hKg
- The strange thing is if Bobde doesn’t know to whom the bike belongs then how can he try to ride?
- How can someone give the most expensive bike for trial only?
- What if that bike belongs to any criminal instead of any Leader?
- How do people try bikes instead of riding?
- SC may waste a lot of time on such useless cases, but will not consider solving important cases that are pending for 40 years.
- The Supreme Court can charge a special fee to litigants for wasting their time. Why can’t SC charge itself a fee for wasting more than 2 months in such a baseless case?
- In addition to Mr. Bhushan, even the retired senior justices have made such comments several times. Can we haul them up for contempt?
- If the Supreme Court imposes a fine of 1 rupee on #PrashantBhushan in a contempt case, then why did not impose a fine on CJI for no mask?
- If an ordinary person would do this, he would be brutally beaten by the police in India for violating the lockdown rules, he would be imprisoned by the National Security Act, UAPA, and TADA (Terrorism and Anti-
Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) and would never receive any legal aid and his entire life will rust in Indian prisons, but Honorary Chief Justice Bobde did not apologize to the country for violating lockdown rules, but set an example of a well-educated, knowledgeable and law-abiding citizen of India, accusing Prashant Bhushan of the contempt of courts which clearly demonstrates India’s dictatorship.
According to the order issued by the Chief Secretary Vijay Dev to curb the spread of infectious coronavirus disease, not wearing a mask when going out of your house in every state (especially in the capital “Delhi”) may put you in jail for up to six months.
People, who violate the order, by not wearing a face mask while outdoors may also be fined 200 to 1,000 rupees.
The chief secretary said that violators will be severely punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (the provision of public officials for disobeying orders). Dev stated in the order that anyone working in any place, office, or workshop must wear a mask.
No one can transcend the law. Law is equal to everyone.
If the Supreme Court can impose a fine on Prashant Bhushan for his tweets, the Supreme Court must impose a fine on the Chief Justice of India for not wearing a mask (according to Section 188).
According to the guidelines of the central government, the use of a face mask is mandatory, but we have seen that the CJI did not follow the guidelines of the central government, so how can ordinary people follow?
The law and order of the country must be equivalent for everyone, whether it is an ordinary person, a billionaire, the prime minister of the country, or the CJI of the Supreme Court of India, no one should be above the law, and everyone should be punished for violating the law.
Everyone except SC knows that Mr. Bhushan’s tweets are by no means intended to disrespect the Supreme Court or the entire judiciary in any way, but merely to express his anguish at what he felt.
His tweets will not incite violence or any form of physical activity. It clearly shows that he observed and made a speech. He only expressed his opinion, which is supposed to be one right. The Constitution of India provides the rights of freedom of expression and speech as stipulated in Article 19. Freedom of expression and speech means the right to express one’s own ideas and opinions through the mouth, print, writing, photograph, or any other form.
The bench led by Judge Arun Mishra said in the verdict that Mr. Bhushan will be sentenced to three months in prison and will face a three-year injunction. The maximum sentence he will face up to 6 months in prison for his tweets, which includes a photo of the Chief Justice astride a Harley-Davidson bike owned by a political associate of the country’s powerful prime minister.
If Mr. Bhushan has to undergo imprisonment, then CJI must also be imprisoned for violating lockdown rules.
The prominent advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was found convicted of criminal contemptuous for two of his tweets, was on Monday let off with a token fine of 1 rupee by the apex court of India.
In response to the verdict, Bhushan wrote on Twitter that his lawyer and senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan had contributed to Re 1 after the verdict.
My lawyer & senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan contributed 1 Re immediately after the contempt judgement today which I gratefully accepted pic.twitter.com/vVXmzPe4ss— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) August 31, 2020
Bhushan wrote: ” My senior colleague Rajiv Dhavan and my lawyer donated 1 Re immediately after despising the verdict today which I gratefully accepted.”
The bench composed of judges Arun Mishra, Krishna Murari, and BR Gavai instructed the lawyer to deposit the amount before September 15, otherwise he will be sentenced to 3 months’ imprisonment and banned from practicing for 3 years.
It clearly shows that Prashant Bhushan, a veteran advocate, was humiliated by SC in the worst possible way, by imposing a mere Re. 1 fine for the contempt of court.
SC allows itself to be bullied by the gang. Now, the Supreme Court of India will openly accept allegations of corruption and ridicule in every future verdict.
This case has become a watershed moment for freedom of speech and encourages many people to stand up and speak against unfairness and injustices in society.
The real scandal is the stacking of legal systems for the most vulnerable people in India.
Every Indian wants a strong and independent judiciary. Obviously, if the courts are weakened, it will weaken the republic and harm every citizen.
After the verdict was issued, several Twitter users responded to the amount of fine imposed on Bhushan.
“One user asked, “Re. 1, is it with or without GST?”
Another user tweeted, What kind of justice are a fine of only Rs 1 and a fine of Rs 1000 if we do not wear a mask. Wow, What a Great justice!
Shirish Kunder, a filmmaker tweet, “Considering the GDP, Re 1 seems to be a very high fine.”
Considering the GDP, Re 1 seems like a very high fine.— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) August 31, 2020
82 pages of sentence + 108 pages of conviction= Rs. 1 fine?
Beggar also denied accepting Rs.1 but Supreme Court accept!
Is the prestige, status & pride of the Supreme court of the country so cheap?