NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Supreme Court’s hearing on Tuesday to determine the quantum of sentence after finding Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt for “false and malicious” tweets, the activist-advocate on Monday again refused to apologise and told the apex court that his “contemptuous” remarks were meant to arrest the court’s drift from its role as protector of people’s rights.
Responding to the Supreme Court’s August 20 order giving him time till Tuesday to “submit unconditional apology, if he so desires” before the hearing on sentencing, the activist-advocate said the tweets were expressions of his belief as well as bona fide opinions, which at best could amount to constructive criticism meant to convey to the court not to deviate from its sterling record.
“If I retract a statement before this court that I otherwise believe to be true or offer an insincere apology, that in my eyes would amount to contempt of my conscience and of an institution that I hold in highest esteem,” Prashant Bhushan said, living up to his August 20 promise to the Supreme Court that there would be no substantial change in the tone, tenor and content of his unapologetic statement made that day.
In a 435-word statement filed through advocate Kamini Jaiswal, he said, “Today, in these troubling times, the hopes of the people of India vest in this court to ensure the rule of law and the Constitution and not an untrammelled rule of the executive. This casts a duty, especially for an officer of this court like myself, to speak up when I believe there is a deviation from its sterling record.
“Therefore, I expressed myself in good faith, not to malign the Supreme Court or any particular chief justice but to offer constructive criticism so that the court can arrest any drift away from its long-standing role as a guardian of the Constitution and custodian of peoples’ rights.”
He even faulted the bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari for failing to factually record what he told the court on August 20. “It is with deep regret that I read this court’s August 20 order. At the hearing, the court asked me to take 2-3 days to reconsider the statement I made in the court. However, the order states: ‘We have given time to the contemnor to submit an unconditional apology, if he so desires’.”
He said he had never flinched in offering an apology for his mistakes and wrongdoings. “It has been a privilege for me to have served this institution and bring several important public interest causes before it. I live with the realisation that I have received from this institution much more than I have had the opportunity to give it,” he said.
Recording his utmost regard for the SC, Bhushan said, “I believe that the SC is the last bastion of hope for the protection of fundamental rights, the watchdog institutions and indeed for constitutional democracy itself. My tweets represented this bona fide belief that I continue to hold. Public expression of these beliefs was, I believe, in line with my higher obligations as a citizen and a loyal officer of this court.”


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