Prashant Bhushan files application to defer sentence hearing in the contempt case against him

    In the hearing lined up for tomorrow to declare its penalty on Prashant Bhushan, who was found guilty of criminal contempt of Court for two tweets criticising the judiciary on August 14, an application is filed in the Supreme Court to defer the hearing. The application is filed on the grounds that he intends to seek a review of the judgement convicting him for contempt of court and that Bhushan would file the review petition within the statutory period of thirty days.

    The application has been filed through Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, in which Bhushan has requested the Court to postpone the hearing on sentence, which was initially scheduled on August 20, until he can file a review petition and that petition is already decided upon.

    Usually, in cases of Suo Motu proceedings, the first court of instance is acted by the Supreme Court due to which there is no provision to appeal against its judgement. In such a situation, the only remedy available for Bhushan is through a Review, which he plans to file. So Bhushan urges that the hearing on the sentencing be deterred until his review petition is filed.

    In order to ensure the correctness of the verdict, Bhushan has to move a review plea. In itself, the Bhushan’s application highlights,

    “It would be in consonance with the right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Otherwise there would be gross injustice since there would be no occasion to examine the correctness of the findings arrived in a Suo Motu criminal contempt proceeding before putting the convicted contemnor’s liberty at stake.”

    A former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Kurian Joseph released a statement indicating that in situations of suo motu contempt cases, an intra-court appeal should be provided. He also added that to avoid even the remotest possibility of miscarriage of justice, there should be provisions laid down to safeguard intra-court appeal. Pointing out to the contempt verdict in the suo motu case against Justice C S Karnan, which was passed by a bench of 7 senior judges, he remarked that,

    “Important cases like this need to be heard elaborately in physical hearing where only there is a scope for a broader discussion and wider participation.”