Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Monday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its judgment in last month’s criminal contempt case, saying paying a token fine does not mean he had accepted the verdict.
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.
“Just because I’m paying the fine does not mean I have accepted the verdict. We have filed a writ petition that there must be an appeal procedure created for conviction under contempt,” Bhushan told the media before submitting the fine.
Bhushan said that he had received contributions from several corners of the country for paying the fine, and a “truth fund” would be created out of such contributions to provide legal aid to those who are prosecuted for dissenting opinions.
“The State is using all means to silence voices of dissent. The ‘truth fund’ will be used to protect the personal liberty to those persons who face the State’s persecution,” Bhushan said.
Bhushan also spoke on the arrest of former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid for his alleged role in the Delhi riots, saying that the government was using all sorts of tactics to shut down criticism.
The advocate on Sunday had filed a writ petition in the apex 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”, he had said in his plea.
He also contended that existing laws “do not bar or prohibit” what he was seeking, pointing out that the apex court had in the past framed special rules to deal with cases concerning the death penalty.
Bhushan in his statement earlier refused to offer an apology to the Supreme Court for the tweets, saying what he had expressed represented his bona fide belief which he continued to hold.