Supreme Court wields the ‘iron hand’ in holding Prashant Bhushan guilty for tweets critical of judiciary and chief justice

Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan held guity by Supreme CourtBCCL
  • Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan is held guilty by the Supreme Court of India over two tweets criticising the judiciary and the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
  • “An attempt to shake the very foundation of constitutional democracy has to be dealt with an iron hand,” the court said in its judgement.
  • Details of his punishment will be announced next week on August 20.
You can’t quite say everything on Twitter and you need not look further than lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan for proof. Today, the Indian Supreme Court held him guilty of contempt of court over two tweets that he sent out which were critical of the judiciary and the Chief Justice of India. The hearing to decide his punishment will be held on August 20.


“An attempt to shake the very foundation of constitutional democracy has to be dealt with an iron hand,” the court said in its judgement. “The tweet has the effect of destabilising the very foundation of this important pillar of Indian democracy,” in added.

According to the Supreme Court, the tweets gave the impression that the judiciary had a vital role to play in the ‘destruction of Indian democracy’ in an attempt to shake public confidence.
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It's a question of freedom of speech
The bench — comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari — had earlier reserved judgement when the case was heard on August 5. Bhushan’s representation, Dushyant Dave argued that his client was only exercising his freedom of speech.


Dave told the court his client’s comments were not out of malice, but out of love and affection for the court. “It's not personal. We all want the court to be stronger. This is what the constitution says regarding the separation of power..citizen may question,” Dave told the bench during the hearing .
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Bhushan also filed a reply affidavit to the contempt notice, where he argued that the tweets are not obstructing the administration of justice, only against judges in their personal capacity regarding conduct.

The Supreme Court’s judgement argues that the question of whether the tweets were made in good faith or not is impacted by the reach of a social networking platform like Twitter. “The publication by tweet reaches millions of people and as such, such a huge extent of publication would also be one of the factors that requires to be taken into consideration while consider the question of good faith,” the court said.

The tweets in question
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The contempt notice was originally filed on July 22 against two of Bushan’s tweets on the judiciary and the Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde.

Prashant Bhushan's tweet on June 27Twitter

Prashant Bhushan's tweet calling out CJITwitter

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