Retired judges, Lawyers, Civil Servants Slam ‘Those Criticizing Contempt Order’

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Updated on September 30, 2020 11:37 pm

A group of citizens, including retired judges, lawyers, and bureaucrats, has slammed those criticizing the Supreme Court order holding senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court and raised concern over the emerging trend of “browbeating and intimidating the judiciary”.

The group of 772 citizens, in a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), said that India has witnessed a series of attacks by institutional disruptors against judges who are unwilling to agree with them and toe the line drawn by them.

1,500 lawyers had earlier come forward in favor of Prashant

Showing “dismay” over the conviction of Prashant Bhushan by the Supreme Court, over 1,500 lawyers from across the country, including senior members of the Bar, urged the top court Monday to “take corrective steps to prevent the miscarriage of justice”.

The Supreme Court judgment that convicted Prashant guilty of criminal contempt

The Supreme Court had, in its judgment on August 14 this month, held Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of court over his tweets.

The apex court had fixed for August 20 hearing arguments on sentencing in the case.

Tweets that led to his conviction

Tweet that led to Prashant Bhushan conviction of criminal contempt of court
Tweet that led to Prashant Bhushan conviction of criminal contempt of court

The apex court in its judgment had earlier said: “It is unfortunate that when political ends of lawyers are not served by a decision of the court, they vilify the court by making scandalizing remarks.

While the letter from the citizen group further read: “The Supreme Court of India, as well as the judges, are subject to both scurrilous language, malicious attacks, and scandalizing remarks.”

It said that legitimate criticism of both judgments and the functioning of the institution has always existed, however, when the criticism is calculated and actuated by malice, the authority of the court is undermined.

“If the judiciary is to perform its duties and functions effectively, it is essential to protect the dignity and authority of the courts. The foundation of the judiciary is the confidence of the people in its ability to deliver justice.

The actions of these institutional disruptors through name-calling and usage of certain phrases such as ‘Supreme Court has destroyed democracy’; ‘the Supreme Court is killing the Constitution’ have the tendency to destroy the faith of the public in the judiciary,” the statement said.

“We sincerely hope that the Supreme Court of India ensures that such persons are dealt with in an exemplary manner, even if such actions are taken thirteen years later or else such trends will only accelerate and strike a blow to the guardian of the rule of law,” the group said urging the CJI to uphold the edifice of the judicial system and protect the third pillar of the democracy from those who peddle falsehood to destroy the institution.

Reportedly, the group had earlier submitted a plea to President Ram Nath Kovind claiming that “stray groups with hidden political agendas” cannot be allowed to denigrate democratic institutions.

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