Advocate Prashant Bhushan has filed review petition against the contempt verdict passed by Supreme Court on August 14 holding him guilty of contempt of court for his tweets criticising the judiciary.
A three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Arun Mishra had held Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt and subsequently imposed a token punishment of a Rs 1 fine on him.
Today, Bhushan made a deposit of fine by draft of 1 rupee while making a statement before the press that his compliance with the Court's order to deposit the fine does not mean that he accepts the Judgment of the court.
Review Petition filed through Advocate Kamini Jaiswal citing the Supreme Court's 1995 judgment in the case of In re Vinay Chandra Mishra(1995) 2 SCC 584,seeks for an open court hearing of the contempt case.
"In view of the sui generis nature of the proceedings under Article 129 for criminal contempt which is not committed ex facie curiae, a hearing in open court ought to be granted both on the question of admitting the present petition as well as on its merits."Petition states.
The Petition also states that Justice Arun Mishra, who headed the Bench that handed convicted Bhushan, should not have heard this case at all. Mr. Bhushan has cited various instances suggesting that Justice Mishra's presence on the Bench raises a reasonable apprehension on his part of getting a "fair and impartial hearing".
"On several occasions Hon'ble Justice Arun Mishra has orally accused the Review Petitioner 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.
The petition also contended that the inherent power of the Supreme Court under Article 129 to punish for contempt of itself is not absolute. Placing reliance on the judgment in the matter of Supreme Court Bar Assn. case (1998) 4 SCC 409, whereby it was held that no power of the Supreme Court is unlimited and even the power under Article 142 is only to ensure complete justice to the parties before it.
"Regulation of the power under Article 129 through prescribing procedure, maximum punishment etc. does not amount to taking away or denuding the power but only keeping such power within the limits that flow inter-alia from due process requirements under Article 21 of the Constitution and from the principle of supremacy of the Constitution rather than supremacy of any entity that the Constitution establishes," the plea states.
The petition also raised a point that the contempt petition against Bhushan was not maintainable in the first place without the consent of Attorney General of India, which is prerequisite in cases of criminal contempt.
"The role of the Attorney General is absolutely essential in a proceeding of Suo Motu Criminal Contempt as the Attorney General is the only independent mind that can throw light on if there is a any contempt at all, the court being the aggrieved party as also the adjudicator and the alleged contemnor being the defendant."
It was also contended in the petition that the tweets in question were not prima facie contemptuous and that Prshant Bhushan's defence of truth was not considered. The Supreme Court, through this judgment, has made "any and all criticism of the institutional role of the Supreme Court an offence of criminal contempt".