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"He Expresses Regret": AG Declines Consent To Initiate Contempt Proceedings Against Prashant Bhushan For His Tweet Over CJI 's MP Visit

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
28 Nov 2020 1:48 PM GMT
He Expresses Regret: AG Declines Consent To Initiate Contempt Proceedings Against Prashant Bhushan For His Tweet Over CJI s MP Visit
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Attorney General KK Venugopal has refused to grant his consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Advocate Prashant Bhushan for his recent tweet over CJI Bobde's visit to Madhya Pradesh. The AG said that Bhushan has already expressed his regret for making the impugned remakrs against the CJI by stating on Twitter that it was incorrect on his part to say that the...

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Attorney General KK Venugopal has refused to grant his consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Advocate Prashant Bhushan for his recent tweet over CJI Bobde's visit to Madhya Pradesh.

The AG said that Bhushan has already expressed his regret for making the impugned remakrs against the CJI by stating on Twitter that it was incorrect on his part to say that the fate of the Government of Madhya Pradesh depended on the case pending before the Chief Justice of India.

"I do not think that it would be in public interest to give consent for proceeding on the basis of the original tweet in view of the subsequent tweet expressing regret," the AG said.

In October 2020, Advocate Sunil Kumar Singh had written a letter to the AG against Bhushan's tweet which had questioned the CJI for using a "special chopper" provided by the Madhya Pradesh Government, during the pendency of the case regarding disqualification of defecting MLAs of the state.

Contending that the tweet "scandalises" the Supreme Court and "prejudices and interferes with the due course of judicial proceedings and administration of justice" of a sub-judice matter, Advocate Sunil Singh had sought permission to initiate proceedings for contempt of court against Mr. Bhushan.

Lawyer Seeks AG's Consent To Initiate Contempt Proceedings Against Prashant Bhushan For Recent Tweet Over CJI 's MP Visit

The AG said that initially he was also of the opinion that the imputations contained in the said tweets were wholly unwarranted, improper, devoid of legal basis and prima facie contumacious for the following reasons:

"Firstly, the Chief Justice of India is one of the highest constitutional functionaries in the country and Is to receive protocol as befits the stature of his office. He is also entitled to 'Z plus' security. Additionally, in terms of the Madhya Pradesh State Guest Rules, 2011, the Chief Justice is a 'State Guest' and is entitled therefore for to be extended facilities for the purpose of his reception, transport and boarding. In addition thereto, State Guests are entitled to be extended appropriate security.

Secondly, one must keep in mind the fact that it has been reported widely in the press that the Kanha National Park, since about the year 2016-2017 has been overrun by Maoists, and has seen the presence of nearly 200 armed cadre. A report in the Hindustan Times dated 30.09.2020 States that the Maoists facing pressure from security forces in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh decided to shift to the dense and difficult terrain of Kanha for a safe haven. The Chief Justice, notwithstanding his Z Plus Security, would therefore have been extremely vulnerable were he to have travelled by road in his convoy, with ambulance and other facilities through the Kanha National Park. It was therefore, the most prudent and appropriate. measure for the State Government to have the Chief Justice of India transported via helicopter. The imputation of impropriety therefore was improper and without application of mind to these realities and is contumacious.

Thirdly, the attempt to link the receipt of facilities to which the Chief Justice of India is in any event entitled, to the pendency of a case of disqualification of members of the Legislative Assembly of Madhya Pradesh (hereinafter 'MLAs') was also improper. It is to be noted that the fate of the Government in Madhya Pradesh did not depend on the outcome of the said case, as the resignation of the said MLAs had already been accepted by the previous Speaker. When the Government changed, the protem Speaker rejected the application for disqualification of these MLAs on the ground that as their resignations had already been accepted, they had already ceased to be members of the Legislative Assembly. In any event, with the exit of those MLAs, the BUP Government became the single largest party with 107 MLAs, out of a total strength of 230 in the House."

However, the AG noted that on November 4, 2020, Bhushan realised that he had made a mistake in connecting the facilities provided to the Chief Justice by the Madhya Pradesh Government to the survival of the Government, and he thus put another tweet in the public domain in the same manner as the original tweet.

"In this subsequent tweet, published on 4.11.2020, he has expressed regret for the error made in his earlier tweet on 21.10.2020. He has stated publicly that it was incorrect to state that the fate of the Government of Madhya Pradesh depended on the case pending before the Chief Justice of India," the AG noted.

Further he noted that the case pertaining to which Bhushan had passed those remarks had been withdrawn from the Supreme Court and it would be in public interest to give consent for initiation of contempt.

"The case pertaining to the disqualification of the erstwhile members of parliament in the state of Madhya Pradesh has now been withdrawn by the petitioner as having become infructuous. Sh. Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioner had made this representation to the Supreme Court which recorded "Learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner states that the matter has become infructuous. In view of the above, the special leave petition is disposed of as having become infructuous"" the AG pointed out.

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