The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s plea seeking deferment of hearing on his sentencing till the time his review petition against the August 14 conviction in contempt case is taken up. The court, however, gave him ‘2-3 days to reconsider his defiant statement’.
The top court on August 14 held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his derogatory tweets against the judiciary saying they cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in the public interest
During the hearing, Dushyant Dave, the lawyer for Prashant Bhushan, said, “The appeal is correct under judicial review and the sentence can be deferred. Heaven is not going to fall, if the sentence will be deferred.”
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra assured Bhushan that no punishment will be acted upon till his review against the order convicting him is decided. “Even if we punish you, it won’t be activated, till the decision on review. We’ll be fair to you. We feel you are trying to avoid this bench.”
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavi and Krishna Murari, told Dave that he is asking them to commit an “act of impropriety” by saying that the argument on sentencing be heard by another bench.
“You are asking us to commit an act of impropriety that arguments on sentencing should be heard by another bench”, the bench said It added: “Has it been ever done that hearing on sentencing has been undertaken by the other bench when the main bench is existing?”
The bench told Attorney General K K Venugopal that it will first hear Bhushan on the issue of sentencing. When Dave said that Venugopal should be allowed to argue first, the bench said, “Don’t remind us of the professional norms”.