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NEW DELHI: After being convicted of contempt of court for scandalising the Chief Justice Of India and the Supreme Court with his “false and malicious” tweets, activist- advocate Prashant Bhushan told the SC on Sunday that making corruption charges against the judges would not amount to contempt of court.
In an elaborate defence to wriggle out of contempt proceedings initiated against him in 2009 for calling half of 16 former CJIs corrupt, Bhushan said mere utterance of corruption charge could not be contempt of court as a parliamentary committee as far back as 1964 had said, “Corruption exists in the lower ranks of the judiciary all over India and in some places, it has spread to the higher ranks also.”
He said when even former CJI S P Bharucha had conceded that 20% of judges were corrupt and former CJI P Sathasivam said, “I should fairly admit that the judiciary is not untouched by corruption”, how could the court arrive at a conclusion that ‘corruption’ per se would be contempt.
On August 10, a bench of Justice Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari had said, “Before reaching at any finding whether the statement (of Prashant Bhushan) made as to ‘corruption’ would per se amount to contempt of court, the matter is required to be heard.”
Bhushan said he had clarified on August 4 that his remark that half of the 16 former CJIs were corrupt did not point towards financial corruption but impropriety and regretted if it was misinterpreted to cause grief to the former CJIs as well as their family members.
In written submissions filed through advocate Kamini Jaiswal, Bhushan responded to the August 10 order of the Supreme Court saying he had used the word corruption in a wide sense to include any act of impropriety other than merely financial corruption. “Therefore, to examine whether imputing corruption to a judge would amount to per se contempt, one would first need to examine as to what the word corruption has been normally understood to include,” he said.
Bhushan said the word ‘corruption’ had a wider meaning. “The word corruption has been defined, discussed and elaborated in several critical documents such as the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, in various judgments of the Supreme Court as well as British and American courts, Law Commission reports etc,” he said.
The advocate said discussing corruption among judges was important as only that could lead to inquiry against them and possible removal by Parliament.
Bhushan also cited the cases of high court judges P D Dinakaran and Soumitra Sen, who had resigned following removal motions in Parliament after judges’ inquiry committee had found them guilty.

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