Prashant Bhushan ordered to pay symbolic fine
It has been reported that India’s Supreme Court ordered lawyer Prashant Bhushan to pay a symbolic fine of 1 Indian rupee on 31 August. Earlier that month, on 14 August, the court held Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for two tweets.
On 22 July, the Supreme Court issued a contempt notice to prominent public interest lawyer Bhushan for two of his tweets on the current and former chief justices of India. In its judgement, the court found that the tweets were a “calculated attack on the very foundation of the institution of the judiciary”. He faced a maximum sentence of six months in prison for the tweets.
In one of his tweets, Bhushan tweeted a photograph of the current Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and mentioned: “when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice”. In another tweet, Bhushan noted the role of the Supreme Court and previous chief justices in the “destruction of democracy”.
On 31 August, the Court found in its judgement that the tweets were an attempt to “denigrate the reputation of the institution of administration of justice”. The court said that this attempt is “capable of shaking the very edifice of the judicial administration and also shaking the faith of common man in the administration of justice.” Moreover, the court informed Bhushan that if he failed to pay the fine before 15 September, he would face three months in jail and lose his right to practice law. After the decision, Bhusan posted on Twitter that he paid the fine immediately.
The decision of the Supreme Court to hold Bhushan guilty led to many discussions about the standards of criminal contempt. Over 1800 Indian lawyers have issued a statement condemning the court’s decision to convict Bhushan for contempt of court.
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