Advocate Prashant Bhushan has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court praying that those found guilty by the court in an original criminal contempt case should have the right to file an intra-court appeal which should be heard by a different and larger bench. This would reduce the chances of “vengeful decisions”, his plea said.
The top court had held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for two of his tweets and asked him to pay a token fine of Re 1.
While sentencing him, the Supreme Court had told Bhushan to pay the fine by September 15, failing which he would have to undergo simple imprisonment for three months and would be debarred from practising before it for three years. Bhushan had paid the fine.
In his fresh petition, he said in case the court does not allow intra-court appeal, it must direct that review petitions filed against orders of conviction by the Supreme Court in original criminal contempt cases should be heard in open court by a different bench.
He contended that existing laws “do not bar or prohibit” what he was seeking. Bhushan pointed out that the apex court had the past framed special rules to deal with cases concerning the death penalty.
He said in original contempt proceedings where the Supreme Court does not act as an appellate court, “considering the fact that there is inherent unavoidable conflict of interest involved, and the fact that liberty of the alleged contemnor is at stake, it is of utmost importance that certain basic safeguards are designed which would reduce (though not obviate) chances of arbitrary, vengeful and high-handed decisions”.
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