Expressing dismay at the Supreme Court's verdict holding him guilty of "malicious, scurrilous, calculated attack"on the institution, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan said he was pained that he had been held guilty of contempt of the very court whose dignity he had tried to uphold for over three-decades.
He said, "I am pained, not because I may be punished, but because I have been grossly misunderstood."
In a statement on August 20, Bhushan reiterated that the two tweets for which he had been held guilty of contempt, represented his "bonafide beliefs", saying that the expression of which must be permissible in any democracy. He added, "Failing to speak up would have been a dereliction of duty, especially for an officer of the court like myself."
"My tweets were nothing but a small attempt to discharge what I considered to be my highest duty at this juncture in the history of our republic. I did not tweet in a fit of absence mindedness. It would be insincere and contemptuous on my part to offer an apology for the tweets that expressed what was and continues to be my bonafide belief," Bhushan said.
The SC, on August 20, was hearing the matter pertaining to the contempt case against Prashant Bhushan, to decide the sentence. It rejected Bhushan's request to defer the hearing on his sentencing for contempt.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Bhushan said, " I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal to magnanimity. I am here, therefore, to cheerfully submit to any penalty that can lawfully be inflicted upon me for what the Court has determined to be an offence, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen."
Meanwhile, Attorney General KK Venugopal also appealed the apex court in Bhushan's favour, requesting that the advocate not be punished in the case. He noted that Bhushan has done a "tremendous amount of public good".
On August 14, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his two tweets. The bench, in its 108-page verdict in the suo motu contempt case, held that Bhushan's remarks were derogatory and were not a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in the public interest.
Two of Bhushan's tweets were the subject of the court's analysis. One was posted on June 27, pertaining to the functioning of the judiciary in the past six years. And, another was on July 22 with regard to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.