Published On: Fri, Aug 14th, 2020

No need for AG’s consent to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings: SC

New Delhi: Holding Prashant Bhushan guilty for contempt of court, the Supreme Court on Friday said that it is settled that as far as suo motu petitions are concerned, there is no requirement for taking consent of anybody, including that of the Attorney General, because the court is exercising its inherent powers to issue notice for contempt. The hearing on the sentence is scheduled on August 20.

It is equally well settled that once the court takes cognizance, the matter is purely between the court and the contemnor

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, said, “It is equally well settled that once the court takes cognizance, the matter is purely between the court and the contemnor. The only requirement is that, the procedure followed is required to be just and fair and in accordance with the principles of natural justice.”

Bhushan had argued that he was proceeded against without the consent of the AG, who is the country’s top law officer. The top court said that in the present case, the notice issued to the alleged contemnors clearly mentions the tweets on the basis of which the court is proceeding suo motu.

Citing the Vijay Kurle verdict, the top court said that a bare reading of Article 129 clearly shows that this court being a “Court of Record” shall have all the powers of such a Court of Record, including the power to punish for contempt of itself. This is a constitutional power which cannot be taken away or in any manner abridged by statute.

In Bhushan’s contempt case, the bench said, “The alleged contemnor No. 1 (Prashant Bhushan) has also clearly understood the basis on which the court is proceeding against him as is evident from the elaborate affidavit-in-reply filed by him.”

The bench noted that the object of contempt proceedings is not to afford protection to judges personally from imputations to which they may be exposed as individuals.

“It has been held, that it is intended to be a protection to the public whose interests would be very much affected if by the act or conduct of any party, the authority of the court is lowered and the sense of confidence which people have in the administration of justice by it is weakened,” added the bench.

The Supreme Court initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Bhushan for allegedly making derogatory comments against the top court on Twitter. The suo motu contempt proceeding was initiated against Bhushan for posting two tweets on June 27 and June 29.

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