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The recent case of conviction of well-known civil rights lawyer, Prashant Bhushan has been in gaining a lot of attention. He has been convicted for contempt of court on August 14, 2020, as he tweeted on a photograph of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) of India, Sharad A. Bobde, sitting on a bike, and another one on the court’s role in the past 6 years. Both these tweets have scandalised the reputation of the Supreme Court as an institution, therefore finding him guilty of criminal contempt, by ‘scandalising the court’. The Judicial Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra gave a 108-page judgement on the same saying that, the disrespect and disaffection created by the “scurrilous” tweets cannot be ignored by the Court. The Court also dismissed Bhushan’s defence stating that the tweets conveyed criticism and not contempt. His tweet about the CJI was scandalous as it was based on “distorted facts”. The fact that contempt powers could not be upheld to vindicate an individual judge was well acknowledged by the Court, but a defamatory statement concerning “the judge is a serious impediment to justice”. His second tweet gave the impression that “destruction to democracy” has been caused due to the Supreme Court and four Chief Justices in the past six years. The judgement said that the right to free speech has been misused to scandalise the reputation of court, thereby causing contempt for which Prashant Bhushan has been sentenced. On August 20, 2020, the Court passed another order, where the Court reversed its sentence, giving him time till August 24 to submit an “unconditional apology, if he so desires”. To this Bhushan said that it would be contemptuous on his part to apologise for something he believed in, therefore he shall accept whatever punishment is given to him with open arms.

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