The Supreme Court's judgment in Prashant Bhushan's contempt case does not restore the authority of the court in the eyes of the public, and will discourage lawyers from being outspoken, 41 practicing members of the Bar have said in statement.
Days after the Supreme Court held senior advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court in the suo moto contempt case against him, 41 practicing members of the Bar have written to the apex court and "the public of India at large".
"We, the below named, practicing members of the Bar in India, have noted with dismay, the judgment of the Supreme Court, in Mr. Prashant Bhushan's contempt case," the statement says, adding that while some of those who have signed the statement might be of "divergent views on the advisability and content of Mr. Prashant Bhushan's two tweets", they are "unanimously of the view that no contempt of court was intended or committed".
In July, the top court had initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Bhushan for his alleged derogatory tweets against the judiciary.
The three-member bench had prima facie observed that Bhushan's tweets "have brought disrepute to the administration of justice and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of general public".
The statement, signed by Vrinda Grover, Dushyant Dave and Sanjay Hegde, among others, said: "While Mr. Prashant Bhushan as a lawyer of good standing of the Supreme Court, may not be an ordinary man, his tweets do not say anything out of the ordinary, other than what is routinely expressed about the court's working in recent years by many on public fora and on social media."
The statement goes on to add that the SC's judgement "does not restore the authority of the court in the eyes of the public".
"Rather, it will discourage lawyers from being outspoken. From the days of the supersession of judges and the events thereafter, it has been the Bar that has been the first to stand in defence of the independence of the judiciary. A Bar silenced under the threat of contempt, will undermine the independence and ultimately the strength of the court. A silenced Bar, cannot lead to a strong court," the statement added.