It is very disquieting to see the pseudo liberal gang make a hero out of Prashant Bhushan, someone who makes unverified, personal allegations against sitting judges & SC.
It is very disquieting to see the pseudo liberal gang make a hero out of Prashant Bhushan, someone who makes unverified, personal allegations against sitting judges & SC with malafide intention of creating a negative perception among public regarding the court's fairness & integrity.
Bhushan has made it a habit of casting aspersions upon the integrity and motives of judges whenever he loses a case (which seems to be happening a lot these day). Perhaps that is his way of trying to escape blame for his courtroom losses but when he goes ahead and crosses the Lakshman Rekha by making slanderous, accusatory tweets against the incumbent CJI in his capacity as a judge, then you know its time for the courts to act.
And when the court do act, the entire liberal ecosystem goes into a massive propaganda overdrive to portray Bhushan as an innocent, fearless crusader of democracy who is willing to suffer any punishment for speaking truth to power. They frame it as a fight between free speech vs. attempt by certain judges to curb it using contempt proceedings!
The worst part however is that those who believe SC's actions are correct and justified in order to preserve the sanctity of the institution and to restore public faith in judiciary, are silent & not countering the massive propaganda assault unleashed by Bhushan & his team in trying to build a narrative of victimhood & free speech while trying to intimidate & browbeat the judges into exonerating him!
Sample this - Dave argues that Bhushan will file the review...but now - later, i.e. after 5th September when Jus Arun Mishra retires! Of course the limitation period allows him to pursue such underhand tactics but the brazenness with which these so called Senior Advocates are flaunting their legal strategy before judges, almost challenging them -"What will you do now?
You can convict me but i will file review after your retirement so that it hoes before a different bench containing a new judge and then I will request the court to re-adjudicate the matter so that the new judge can hear the entire case again!"- is disturbing.
Allies of Bhushan are demanding abolishing criminal contempt law while their hero welcomed the imprisonment of Justice Kannan in contempt in 2017! They ask Courts to show restraint in exercising contempt while themselves making derogatory remarks about judges! Where is their restraint? Is restraint on speech only for the Bench to follow?
Are there different standards for judges and counsels? This is particularly important because as Justice Mishra said during the sentencing hearing yesterday, both sides should show respect and restraint towards the other and that it’s a two way street. And still the Supreme Court has displayed a remarkable level of restraint and self control in the face of relentless attack pieces written in every conceivable media and platform by politicians, senior advocates, former SC judges and some snide remarks by a few sitting ones as well.
The so called liberal lobby has been going hammer and tongs especially against Justice Arun Mishra whom they perceive to be close to Modi government. They have called him names, brazenly tried to avoid his Benches, tried to play underhand tactics by filing a PIL challenging the constitutional vires of Section 2(c)(i) of Contempt of Court Act, 1972 and getting it listed for hearing before a different Bench of Justice Chandrachud and Justice K.M. Joseph. Thankfully the SC intervened in time to haul up the registry for not listing it before Justice Arun Mishra's Bench and directed it to do the same.
The reason – The said PIL contained an application seeking stay in the contempt proceeding pending against Prashant Bhushan before Justice Mishra. So Bhushan wanted a stay on his contempt proceedings pending before Justice Mishra's Bench and in which judgment had been reserved, through his trojan horse of a PIL filed before a different Bench which must have considered more “friendly” towards him!
And when this dirty attempt failed and the said PIL came up before Justice Mishra's bench, the petitioners hurriedly withdrew it, saying they will file it after two months, implying after the retirement of Justice Mishra. This level of brazenness and underhand dirty tactics have been seldom seen before. Yet the Bench of Justice Arun Mishra have not reacted to the obvious provocations, setting an excellent example for all the other brother judges and lawyers.
Bhushan says contempt impinges upon the free speech but forgets to mention that freedom of speech is not absolute! Slander & derogatory remarks intended to bring down the majesty of courts do not enjoy protection of free speech. Merely calling such derogatory remarks as "bona fide opinion" cannot remove the malafide intent behind making them. Ultimately a distinction needs to be made between a Bonafide opinion and a slanderous statement. Swinging to either extremed is not an option.
And the real victims of these scurrilous remarks against judiciary and judges are not the courts themselves. Courts are too big an institution to ve bothered by such petty tweets. No, the real victims will be the common public, the poor man standing at the end of the line, or at the very bottom of our societal pyramidal structure. Such people, despite suffering all manner of hardships, still harbour hopes of getting their dues, their rights, justice from the system.
This hope emanates from their unshakable belief in the fairness and integrity of our judicial system. Our courts may be painfully slow and inefficient but even the most cynical litigant will vouch for the honesty of our judges, integrity of the judicial process and fairness of any judgment delivered by the court! Due to this belief in the fairness of our courts, is borne the utmost respect for the courts and its verdicts by the common people.
Adage goes like this - Justice may be delayed but not denied. People may die waiting for the disposal of their cases in courts but they have faith that whenever the judgement may come, it will do complete justice with their surviving kins. The real authority and legitimacy of the courts comes from this immense faith and respect for the judiciary among common public.
This respect and faith in our judiciary is severely shaken by malafide statements/tweets made by seemingly responsible people of stature like Prashant Bhushan. If people see him make such statements they may tend to believe him without verifying facts (something which even Mr. Bhushan also omitted to do while tweeting on the CJI's picture on a bike) because of his name, his stature, his image.
People may start developing a negative perception of the courts and may start losing faith in its impartiality. This loss of public faith, based on false or malafide statements/tweets, is what will erode the legitimacy and authority of the court. Thus it is essential for the Supreme Court to intervene in this matter, which thankfully, it did.
This is an epochal moment in our judicial history. If Prashant Bhushan succeeds in his vilifying propaganda war of pressurising the judges into submission and letting him off or if he avoids the
sentence despite being convicted due to his dirty legal shenanigans, it will open a pandora's box of horrors where every two penny lawyer will start berating and accusing judges of partiality, corruption or being pro govt/anti-democracy for giving a judgement against him, irrespective of whether it is legally sound or not, and the judges will be scared of upsetting such lawyers lest they be subject to a media lashing like what is happening now with Justice Arun Mishra.
And if judges start shaping their judicial pronouncements in fear of such lawyers and their tactics, then that will be the day the judiciary will really be stripped of all its integrity, dignity and majesty. That will be the day democracy will really be in danger. Pay heed to this moment.
(The author of this article is Avijit Saxena, an advocate practicing at High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. Views expressed are his personal.)