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SC lets Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie, and N Ram to withdraw plea on contempt Act provisions

Prashant Bhushan, along with N Ram and Shourie, had filed a plea challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, saying it was violative of freedom of speech and right to equality.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 15, 2020 1:26:46 am
Editors Guild condemns AG's assertion that media used 'stolen' Rafale documentsPrashant Bhushan and Arun Shourie. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

Senior journalists N Ram, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan on Thursday withdrew a writ petition they had filed in the Supreme Court challenging Constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra allowed them to withdraw it with liberty to move another appropriate forum other than the Supreme Court for relief.

The top court will, meanwhile, pronounce on Friday its judgment in the contempt case initiated against Bhushan over two of his tweets. The bench had on July 22 issued notice to Bhushan and Twitter Inc., regarding the tweets — dated June 27 and June 29 — stating that they “brought the administration of justice in disrepute”.

The bench reserved its verdict in the matter on August 5.

Appearing for Ram, Shourie and Bhushan on Thursday, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan told the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, that “the issue is important”, but they would “not like to raise the issue at this stage”. Dhavan said there are many cases before the court and he didn’t want the matter to get entangled with the others.

He sought liberty to raise it at a later state — maybe after two months.

Allowing the request for withdrawal, the court said they should move some other appropriate forum, and not the SC.

The petition challenged the constitutional validity of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The provision defines what amounts to criminal contempt.

The trio had moved the plea in the wake of the apex court initiating criminal contempt proceedings against Bhushan over the two tweets and deciding to hear a 2009 criminal contempt case against him for alleged remarks against the judiciary in an interview to Tehelka magazine.

The petition came to be listed for hearing on August 10 before a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud. However, it was removed subsequently from the list of business, with sources in the top court pointing out that the Registry had listed it wrongly.

Explaining this, they said the writ was accompanied by an application seeking stay of proceedings in the two contempt cases against Bhushan pending before Justice Mishra’s Bench. It was, therefore, necessary to list it before the same bench — Justice Mishra’s — since a coordinate bench cannot stay the proceedings of ongoing cases pending before another bench.

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