The Supreme Court on August 31 imposed a token fine of Re 1 on senior activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan for criminal contempt of court for his tweets against the apex court and Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde.
If Bhushan fails to pay the penalty by September 15, he could either face jail for three months or a ban from practising for three years, a three-judge bench said. Bhushan is expected to address a press conference at 4 pm.
The case was registered on July 9 and the first hearing held on July 22.
Here is how the case progressed so far.
June 27: Bhushan’s first tweet criticising the functioning of the SC in the last six years.
“When historians in the future look back at the last six years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the SC in this destruction, and more particularly the role of the last four CJIs.”
June 29: Bhushan’s second tweet under question made a remark on CJI.
“The CJI rides a Rs 50-lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] leader at Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without wearing a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC on lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice!”
July 9: Petition filed against Bhushan by Mehek Maheshwari, an advocate, in the SC seeking initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Bhushan for his tweets.
July 22: First hearing: The SC took up the case based on the petition. Notice issued to Bhushan seeking his response.
August 2: Bhushan files his response before the SC refusing to apologise for his tweets citing freedom of speech.
August 5: Verdict reserved. A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Krishna Murari, reserves the verdict.
August 14: Bhushan found guilty. The three-judge bench finds Bhushan guilty for putting out two tweets criticising the top court and Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde.
August 20: Attorney General KK Venugopal urges court not to punish Bhushan.
August 24: Bhushan submits another statement before the apex court maintaining that he would not apologise.
August 25: Verdict reserved. The court heard Bhushan on the statement submitted by him. A-G urges the SC to let Bhushan off with a warning, the apex court insists it cannot unless Bhushan expresses regret.