India’s top court on Monday ordered a prominent lawyer to pay a fine of Rs 1 (less than 2 cents) after pleading guilty in a much-talked-about criminal contempt case that has led to freedom of speech and the world’s The debate erupted over the independence of the largest judiciary. Democracy
The 63-year-old Prashant Bhushan was convicted in August of posting two tweets in a criminal contempt case in which he criticized the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, saying that “India raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi” The courts played a role in how democracy was destroyed. Office in 2014.
Bhushan could face a jail term of six months. The judges said that if he fails to pay a fine of Rs 1 by September 15, he will be jailed for three months and denied to practice law for three years.
I do not ask for mercy
Prashant Bhushan asked the court to apologize
Bhushan is yet to comment.
In June, Bhushan tweeted a picture of the Chief Justice on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle without a face mask or helmet, accusing him of COVID stalling court work while court work was stopped . 19 epidemic.
The motorcycle belonged to the son of a local leader of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the central city of Nagpur.
‘I do not ask for mercy’
During the hearing in early August, the court said Bhushan’s tweet threatened to “shake the public’s trust” and deceived him to “count on the very foundations of the institution of the judiciary”.
Before the verdict was handed down, he was given an opportunity to apologize by the court, but defended himself by saying that the right to free speech included the right to criticize members of the judiciary.
In his response on 20 August, Bhushan told the court, “I do not ask for mercy. He tweeted – since given below by Twitter -” believed his beliefs.
The Supreme Court said last week that Bhushan’s response was “even more humiliating” than the tweet itself.
In 2017, the court found senior judge CS Karnan guilty of contempt and sentenced him to six months in jail. Karnan had accused the judges of corruption. Several social media users reported that Karnan, who was a sitting judge, was targeted for being a Dalit – a Hindu from the lowest rung of the caste hierarchy of the faith.
Bhushan’s sentence drew severe criticism from former judges, senior lawyers, opposition politicians and civil rights groups, many of whom called the verdict a setback that could destroy the credibility of the judiciary.
For this, archaic, colonial contempt has to resort to court law as it does in the Prashant Bhushan case, which is a blow to the heart of free speech.
Arundhati Roy, Booker Award winning writer and activist
Booker Prize-winning author and activist Arundhati Roy said, “The Supreme Court of India decisions affect the lives of millions of Indians.”
“For this to rise above criticism itself, archaic, colonial contempt had to resort to court law, as in the Prashant Bhushan case, to a large extent a blow to free speech. To the law Must be resumed. ”
In 2002, Roy was sentenced to a day in jail after being found guilty of criminal contempt of court.
Bhushan, one of India’s most respected public interest lawyers, has been a vocal critic of the Supreme Court of late and has often accused the government of pressurizing him.
He is also a staunch critic of the Modi administration and has filed several public interest litigation against the government, demanding greater transparency and accountability.
A champion of public interest litigation, Bhushan had filed several corruption cases against the current main opposition Congress party, which led the country in 2004 and 2014.
He was a prominent founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party, which has ruled the capital, New Delhi since 2015, and was unceremoniously removed from the same year.
In recent years, Indian authorities have increasingly used criminal laws against dissidents, journalists, rights activists, lawyers, academics and students, including dealing with treason and criminal defamation.
Many have been arrested and sent to jail.