The Apex court on thursday rejected the submission of lawyer prashant bhushan that the arguments on quantum of sentence in the contempt proceedings in which he has been held guilty be heard by another top bench.Justice Arun Mishra, who is heading the three(3)-judge bench and is set to retire from Supreme Court on 2 September, responded saying it will be judicial impropriety for another bench to hear on sentence.
“Under Article 145(3) of the Constitution of India
there shall be a quorum of minimum five(5) Judges for deciding any case involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. In both the suo motu contempt cases, in view of the substantial questions of law on the interpretation of the Constitution of India & having serious repercussions on the fundamental rights, the matters require to be heard by a Constitution Bench,” he said in a statement.
“A three(3)-Judge bench of the Supreme Court of India has decided
to hear a few serious questions on extent of contempt of court. Certainly, there are more graver issues, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution of India. For ex, whether a person convicted by the SC of India in a suo motu case should get an opportunity for an intra-court appeal since in all other situations of conviction in criminal matters, the convicted person is entitled to have a 2nd opportunity by way of an appeal,” said Justice Joseph.
“Under Sec. 19 :-Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, an intra-court appeal is provided where the order is passed by the single Judge of the High Court, and, in case it is by the Division Bench, appeal lies to the SC of India. This safeguard is provided probably to avoid even the remotest possibility of miscarriage of justice. Should there not be such a safeguard in the other Constitutional Court, the SC of India also, when there is a conviction in a suo motu criminal contempt case,“ he said.
The SC also said that it will give 2-3 days to Bhushan to
reconsider his “defiant statement”, refusing to apologise for his contemptuous tweets on twitter. The lawyer said he will consult his lawyers and think over the Supreme Court suggestion.
After rejecting Prashant Bhushan’s application for deferment, the court proceeded to commence its hearing on sentencing. Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan is making arguments on behalf of Prashant Bhushan on the sentencing aspect.
The Apex Court had, in its judgment on August 14, held Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt of court over his tweets.