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Further hearing needed in 2009 contempt case against Prashant Bhushan and journalist Tarun Tejpal : SC

 The Supreme Court on Monday said further hearing was required in the 2009 criminal contempt case against activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan and journalist Tarun Tejpal to examine whether comments on corruption against judges per se amounted to contempt or not.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari posted the matter for hearing on August 17.

The top court had in November 2009 issued contempt notice to Bhushan and Tejpal for allegedly casting aspersions on some sitting and former top court judges in an interview to a news magazine. Tejpal was then editor of the magazine.

On August 4, the apex court had made clear to Bhushan and Tejpal that it would hear the case against them, if it does not accept their explanation” or “apology in the matter.

The apex court had on August 4 said that the court has not received the explanation/apology submitted by Bhushan and Tejpal so far and would pronounce its order on whether to accept them or not.

Explanation/apology submitted by Prashant Bhushan/Respondent No.1 and Tarun Tejpal/Respondent No.2, have not been received so far. In case we do not accept the explanation/apology, we will hear the matter. We reserve the order, the bench had said in its last week order.

During the brief hearing conducted through video-conferencing last week, the bench had said it does not want to curtail the freedom of speech and expression but for the contempt there is a thin line.

On July 22, the top court had issued notice to Bhushan in a separate suo motu contempt proceedings initiated against him for his alleged derogatory tweets against the judiciary, saying his statements prima facie “brought the administration of justice in disrepute”.

The apex court had on August 5 reserved its verdict on the contempt case against Bhushan.

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