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'We are living in dangerous times'

By PRASANNA D ZORE
Last updated on: August 25, 2020 11:04 IST
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'We are living in an undeclared Emergency.'
'Declared Emergency was easier to handle.'
'Nobody knows where an undeclared Emergency will take the country.'

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

IMAGE: Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who has been convicted of contempt of court by a three-judge Supreme Court bench. Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

"The Supreme Court's conviction is flawed because it (Prashant Bhushan's two tweets) is not contempt because his tweets in no way obstructs the course of justice or scandalises the court," Supreme Court advocate and Prashant Bhushan's lawyer Kamini Jaiswal tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

What do you think of the Supreme Court judgment convicting Prashant Bhushan for contempt of court?

It is completely flawed because there is no contempt (of court) made out.

Contempt is very specific: It has to be scandalising the court or obstructing the course of justice. These two tweets (made by Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan) mean none of that.

How does saying that a man (in this case, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde) riding a Rs 50 lakh motorbike obstructs the course of justice?

In any case, it has nothing to do with judicial work. It's a comment. It's a fair comment.

Fair comment based on the fact that the country is going through such a difficult time, the painful situation that the migrants and poor are facing in India today and the courts are not functioning normally and he (the CJI) has the time to sit on a motorbike at a public place without wearing a face mask and not observing whatever the directions of the government (related to maintaining social distancing and wearing a face mask) are.

The Supreme Court's conviction is flawed because it (Prashant Bhushan's two tweets) is not contempt because his tweets in no way obstructs the course of justice or scandalises the court.

But a three-judge bench convicted Prashant Bhushan for contempt of court.

Yes, but that is wrong. They are wrong. They are absolutely wrong.

Would you have reason to believe that the Supreme Court over-reacted?

Absolutely.

It's a black day for the judicial system.

It's a black day for Indian democracy.

It is a black day for freedom of speech and expression.

Why do you think Prashant Bhushan or anybody who makes such comments should not be convicted for contempt of court?

Because there is no contempt. Whether it is Prashant Bhushan or you or me.

For convicting a person, there has to be an offence of contempt.

Should Prashant Bhushan have apologised?

He has already filed his statement and that's that. They want an unconditional apology and he is not doing that.

If this judgment is flawed, do you think freedom of speech and expression are at stake now?

Your and my freedom is at stake.

Freedom of expression, which is a Fundamental Right, is at stake.

We are living in dangerous times and living in an undeclared Emergency.

Declared Emergency was easier to handle. Nobody knows where an undeclared Emergency will take the country.

What has enabled this kind of environment to persist?

Do you think in times like this, we should be discussing a stupid tweet when there are so many serious issues that the judiciary must pay attention to?

Like the people's Right to lLife, their liberty; the whole of Jammu Kashmir is under detention since August last year.

Is this the time to think of all this? This is too frivolous.

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PRASANNA D ZORE / Rediff.com
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