The government's top lawyer, KK Venugopal, today withdrew his contempt petition against senior Supreme Court advocate, Prashant Bhushan, for his tweets allegedly criticising the court on the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim CBI director. The Attorney-General told the Supreme Court that Prashant Bhushan has "realised his mistake."
Prashant Bhushan admitted before the Supreme Court that he made a "genuine mistake" by tweeting that the government had perhaps submitted fabricated minutes of meeting of the high-powered selection committee on the appointment of Mr Rao.
Senior lawyer, Dushant Dave, representing Prashant Bhushan, told the court that after hearing the Attorney General's statement, he is apologizing on behalf of his colleague and also withdrawing the recusal petition against Justice Arun Mishra from hearing the contempt case.
But Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha insisted that instead of Mr Dave, Prashant Bhushan should come forward and apologize. The latter, however, refused to do so and said he won't withdraw his plea seeking recusal of Justice Mishra.
Mr Venugopal, however, told the bench that he stood by his earlier statement that he did not want any punishment for Prashant Bhushan in the matter. The bench said that now it would consider the larger issue of whether a person can criticise the court, when a case is subjudice, to influence public opinion.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on April 3.
Prashant Bhushan had filed an application seeking the recusal of Justice Mishra from hearing the contempt petition filed by Mr Venugopal. Mr Dave argued that the petitioner has apprehensions that Justice Mishra may he biased because he had criticized lawyers discussing M Nageswara Rao's case in the media.
Justice Mishra told the two advocates that, "there has been three recusals in this case -- one by the Chief Justice, the second by Justice AK Sikri and third by Justice NV Ramana. I am not recusing. Your plea is dismissed."