The Supreme Court has decided to refer to another bench the 2009 contempt case against activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan and journalist Tarun Tejpal to deal with certain larger questions related to freedom of speech and levelling of corruption charges against the judiciary, reported a news agency.
The apex court in November 2009, had issued contempt notice to Bhushan and Tejpal for allegedly casting aspersions on some sitting and former top court judges in an interview to a news magazine. Tejpal was the editor of the magazine.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra was told by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Prashant Bhushan, that there were as many as 10 questions of constitutional importance have been raised by him and they needed to be dealt by a Constitution bench. “These are broader issues which need to be deliberated at length. We can have some amicus and it can be adjudicated by an appropriate bench,” said the bench, which also comprised Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari.
The matter is pending for a long time and it be listed before the appropriate bench on September 10, the bench said in a hearing conducted through video conferencing. Justice Mishra, who is retiring on September 2, said the matter will need time and observed “let us leave this to an appropriate bench” .
The court did not agree to the submissions of Dhavan that it should issue notice to the Attorney General K K Venugopal seeking his assistance and opinion to deal with the issues raised and said that ‘it is best left to the appropriate Bench” which will be set up by the CJI. Dhavan said the questions raised by Bhushan included the issue whether bona fide opinions of corruption also constitute contempt of court and “whether it is enough to show bona fide of opinion or it is necessary for the person to prove the allegation of corruption.