The Supreme Court Wednesday permitted contempt proceedings against advocate Prashant Bhushan for casting aspersions on judges, including Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, and making objectionable remarks against them.
A bench of Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice H.L. Dattu said that the contempt petition moved by amicus curiae Harish Salve would be heard Nov 10.
The Court asked Bhushan to file his reply to the contempt petition within 12 weeks.
Earlier appearing for Bhushan, senior counsel Ram Jethamalani objected to the procedure adopted in the suo motu proceeding.
He said that it was incumbent upon the chief justice to take consent of the Attorney General of India before initiating the suo motu contempt proceeding.
Jethmalani told the court that it resorts to suo mottu route for initiating contempt proceedings in ‘rarest of rare’ cases.
Bhushan in an interview to Tehalka magazine had said that the then Justice Kapadia should have recused (withdrawn) himself from the forest bench when it was hearing Vedanta Sterlite Group matter.
Subsequently, Kapadia recused himself from the bench. Others on the forest bench were the then Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Aftab Alam.
Jethmalani told the bench that it should not go ahead with the hearing of the case as it would be seen as an attempt to hold back some ‘uncomfortable’ facts about the judiciary.
The senior counsel said: ‘If the matter is heard, the outcome can bring much much more tragedy.’
Senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, appearing for the lawyer, echoed similar views when he told the court that power of contempt should not be exercised to silence criticism of judiciary.