The Supreme Court has sought answers from its Registry for listing a petition filed by veteran journalists N Ram and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan, challenging the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, before a bench different from the one that is already seized of two criminal contempt cases against Bhushan. The plea by Ram, Shourie and Bhushan was listed for August 10 before a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and KM Joseph, but has since been “deleted” from the list of business. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari had heard arguments on August 4 and 5 in two criminal contempt cases against Bhushan and reserved orders on them.While one case relates to two of Bhushan’s tweets dated June 27 and 29 this year, the other dates back to 2009 over remarks he made in an interview to Tehelka magazine.
On July 22, the court had issued notice to Bhushan in the case over the tweets and fixed August 5 for hearing. On July 24, it fixed August 4 to hear the 2009 matter.
After the dates had been fixed for hearing the two contempt cases, Bhushan filed a fresh writ petition, challenging the notice issued to him in the case related to his tweets. It was listed, along with the contempt case over the tweets, before the bench headed by Justice Mishra on August 5, and was dismissed. Another writ petition was filed by Ram, Shourie and Bhushan, challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 2 (c) (i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
This was listed for August 10 before the bench of Justices Chandrachud and Joseph.
Supreme Court sources said as per “established practice and procedure”, the petition by Ram and others, which was filed in the wake of the hearing of the two contempt cases and Bhushan’s writ, should have also been listed before the bench already seized of a “similar matter”.
The Registry officials concerned will now have to explain why the procedure was “ignored”.
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