Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan has approached the Supreme Court, seeking a review of the last month’s criminal contempt case in which he was found guilty and fined Re 1.
Bhushan, who was punished for his comments on the Supreme Court and Chief Justices of India, said he wants the case to be reheard.
The lawyer-advocate argued that fundamental principles had been violated in deciding his criminal contempt case as the initial petition was never given to him; the top court had turned it into a suo motu case. He asked for an open-court hearing of the review petition.
Supreme Court procedure requires that review petitions are decided by circulation of files within judges’ chambers and not in open court.
Bhushan trained his guns at retired SC judge Justice Arun Mishra, who led the bench that heard the original case. Bhushan said Justice Arun Mishra should not have ruled on it as he had dismissed PILs argued by him (Mr Bhushan), including one on alleged bribes to politicians in connection with the Sahara-Birla diaries case.
Bhushan had moved the court in 2017, seeking a court-monitored probe into the bribes case. The case was heard by Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy.
While filing the review petition on Monday (September 14), Bhushan said there was “reasonable apprehension” that he would not be getting a “fair and impartial hearing from Justice Arun Mishra”.
Related news: 10 things to know about Prashant Bhushan contempt case
The “Sahara diaries” is a collection of documents found in raids on offices belonging to the Sahara group in 2014. The diaries reportedly carried names of politicians from different parties, along with amounts paid as bribes.
Last month, sixty-three-old Bhushan was found guilty of contempt of court for his tweets criticising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the top court. The court had then sought an unconditional apology, maintaining freedom of speech was not absolute. Bhushan had refused to apologise, arguing that he would cheerfully accept punishment to “safeguard the democracy and its values.”