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Comparisons with Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela ‘misplaced’: Prashant Bhushan

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, Prashant Bhushan had firmly stood his ground making it clear to the Supreme Court that he did not want to apologise for two of his tweets that the court had found guilty of contempt.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 21, 2020 11:45:18 pm
Need free speech protection to raise judiciary corruption: Prashant Bhushan"I have done nothing comparable. My courage is due to the support of countless people," Bhushan said.

Activist-Advocate Prashant Bhushan, convicted of criminal contempt by the Supreme Court, Friday said his “courage” to refuse to apologise to the apex court came from the “support of countless people”, and termed his comparisons with freedom fighter Mahatama Gandhi and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela as “misplaced”.

“Due to my refusal to apologise for my tweets and for quoting from Gandhi, some people have started comparing me with Gandhi and Mandela. This is misplaced. They became great due to long struggle and sacrifice. I have done nothing comparable. My courage is due to the support of countless people,” Bhushan tweeted.

On Thursday, Bhushan firmly stood his ground making it clear to the court that he did not want to apologise for two of his tweets that the court had found guilty of contempt. The court, after hearing arguments on the quantum of punishment to be awarded to Bhushan, reserved its order and gave him time till August 24 to apologise.

In his statement before the court, Bhushan invoked Mahatma Gandhi while refusing to apologise to avoid sentencing. “I can only humbly paraphrase what the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi had said in his trial: I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal to magnanimity. I am here, therefore, to cheerfully submit to any penalty that can lawfully be inflicted upon me for what the Court has determined to be an offence, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen,” he had said.

Several of Bhushan’s supporters drew comparisons with Gandhi and Mandela, each of whom had refused to apologise to escape strict penalties. While Mandela spent 27 years in jail for attempting to overthrow South Africa’s apartheid rule, Gandhi was arrested for sedition against the British during India’s freedom struggle.

Editorial | The Supreme Court has broad shoulders. By convicting Prashant Bhushan for contempt, it diminishes itself.

On August 14, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari held Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for two tweets which it said were based on “distorted facts”, constituted a “scurrilous/ malicious… attack” on the “entire Supreme Court”, and had the effect of “destabilising the very foundation” of the judiciary.

Expressing “dismay” over Bhushan’s conviction, over 1,500 lawyers from across the country, including senior members of the Bar, had urged the top court to “take corrective steps to prevent miscarriage of justice”.

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