The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in a 2009 contempt case against advocate Prashant Bhushan and former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal on August 4. The case relates to Bhushan’s statements against some former Chief Justices of India and then Chief Justice S H Kapadia in an interview to the magazine in 2009.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra fixed the date after the counsel appearing for them sought more time to study their briefs. The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, which heard the matter through videoconferencing, did not agree to Bhushan’s father and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan’s request to take up the case only after physical hearings resume in the court. “All sorts of matters (are) being argued through videoconferencing. Even Constitution Bench is hearing cases,” Justice Mishra remarked.
Bhushan senior said: “I find it very hard to address the court through video procedure. I may request to adjourn till court reopens so that I can assist properly. (The) case has been pending since 2009. It can wait for a few more weeks… what is the urgency.”
Shanti Bhushan also submitted that he had filed an impleadment application but the court made it clear that it was not going to implead him.
“You are too senior to be impleaded in the case,” Justice Mishra said.
“Your lordships have not read my application,” Shanti Bhushan continued.
“We have read…. You say in case something happens, you are ready to go to jail in place of him (Prashant Bhushan)… Bhushan-saab we know our responsibility; leave it to us,” Justice Mishra said.
Appearing for Prashant Bhushan, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said he was earlier representing Tejpal while late senior advocate Ram Jethmalani was Prashant Bhushan’s counsel. “Last hearing was in 2012. I was appearing for Tejpal. Now I appear for Bhushan,” he said. Dhavan said that “one question that was left open is whether the matter should go to Constitution Bench and the sealed cover that was handed over by Shanti Bhushan.”
While the case was pending, Shanti Bhushan had handed over, in a sealed cover, a list of names of former Chief Justices, apparently to substantiate the charges made in the Tehelka interview.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Tejpal, said, “I got brief only yesterday and have not been able to go through the papers. It has waited for 9-10 years. So let it wait till physical appearances resume. What’s the urgency,” he told the court.
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