History will judge SC on ‘contempt’: Kapil Sibal on Prashant Bhushan row

Sibal said the apex court has "let us down" with its verdict in the Prashant Bhushan contempt case

Kapil Sibal said the signatories to the letter were called traitors and no leader said such language cannot be used.

Congress leader and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal has said “history will judge” the Supreme Court for “having let us down” with its judgment holding activist Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his tweets against the apex court and the current chief justice.

In a tweet on Saturday (August 22), Sibal said the “contempt power is being used as a sledgehammer”.

The Supreme Court had on August 14 held Bhushan guilty of “serious contempt of court” for the tweets he had posted on June 27 and June 29.

In the June 27 tweet, he said, “When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”

In the later tweet on June 29, he commented on a photo of chief justice S A Bobde astride a high-end motorcycle. He said the the “CJI rides a (Rs) 50 lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice.”

In its verdict, the Supreme Court said that the first tweet was “an attempt to shake the very foundation of constitutional democracy” and it has “to be dealt with an iron hand”. “There is no manner of doubt, that the tweet tends to shake the public confidence in the institution of judiciary,” it said.

Related news: Prashant Bhushan bats for free speech to raise ‘corruption in judiciary’

“Why are courts helpless when institutions that need to protect the Constitution and the laws show ‘open contempt’ for both?” Sibal said in the tweet. “Larger issues are at stake,” he added.

Bhushan said he was “pained” as he was “grossly misunderstood” by the Supreme Court. He said he will file a review petition against the order.

The Supreme Court, however, gave Bhushan three days “to reconsider” his statement and sought an unconditional apology by Monday.