In Prashant Bhushan Contempt Case, Supreme Court To Announce Sentencing On Monday

Prashant Bhushan in the last hearing refused to apologise for his tweets, though the government's top lawyer had suggested he should be pardoned with a warning

Prashant Bhushan in the last hearing refused to apologise for his tweets

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Monday will spell out the sentence on a contempt case against lawyer Prashant Bhushan for his tweets against the judiciary and Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.

Mr Bhushan in the last hearing on Tuesday refused to apologise for his tweets, though the government's top lawyer who is assisting the court had suggested he should be pardoned with a warning.

After a back-and-forth in the courtroom and an emotional statement by outgoing judge Justice Arun Mishra, the Supreme Court had reserved its judgment.

"If you are hurting someone, then what is wrong in apologising?" Justice Arun Mishra had said. "For how long the system will suffer all this? I am retiring in a few days. Will it be okay if you or others start attacking me? You should apply balm if you have caused hurt," he had said.

Justice Mishra was responding to arguments by Mr Bhushan's lawyer Rajeev Dhavan and Attorney General KK Venugopal.

Prashant Bhushan, held guilty of contempt, refused to retract or apologise for his tweets after the court's three-day window ended on Monday. In a 100-page statement, he said the tweets represented a bonafide belief that he holds and an apology, conditional or unconditional, would be insincere. Retracting now would be a "contempt of my conscience" and the court, he said.

The Supreme Court had sought an unconditional apology and had asked the 63-year-old to "reconsider" his statement. On Tuesday, the court told Mr Bhushan to consider withdrawing the statement.

Mr Bhushan's lawyer Rajeev Dhavan said, "This institution must take criticism, and not just criticism but extreme criticism. Your shoulders are broad enough." Mr Dhavan also argued that an apology cannot be coerced.

According to him, Mr Bhushan could be forgiven with a message, not even a reprimand or warning. "Such reprimand or bald warning is too broad and shouldn't be done. One cannot be silenced forever. A message that he should be little restrained in future should be enough."