The Supreme Court Thursday said it will hear in July a contempt plea against lawyer Prashant Bhushan for tweeting that the government had perhaps submitted to the apex court fabricated documents of the high-powered selection panel on the appointment of interim CBI chief.
The plea was filed by Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal against the lawyer-activist for his February 1 tweets.
The matter came up for hearing before a bench of justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha and the court said it would hear the case in July since both Venugopal and Bhushan were arguing in another matter before a Constitution bench.
On March 7, Bhushan had admitted in the apex court his “genuine mistake” in his tweets, but had refused to tender an “unconditional apology” for seeking recusal of Justice Mishra from hearing the matter.
Bhushan in his tweets had said that the Centre appeared to have misled the top court and perhaps submitted fabricated minutes of the meeting of the high-powered selection committee, headed by the prime minister, in a matter related to the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as then interim CBI director.
Venugopal had earlier told the court that he would like to withdraw his contempt plea since Bhushan has made a statement that it was a “genuine mistake”.
He had also reiterated that he does not want any punishment for Bhushan in the case and the court should deal with the larger issue of whether lawyers and litigants can criticise the court proceedings in a matter, which is sub-judice, to influence public opinion.
However, the bench had told Venugopal, “You may or may not withdraw the petition against him (Bhushan) but you have raised a question and we will decide it”.
The court had said it would also deal with the larger issue of whether a lawyer can make comments about court proceedings in a sub-judice matter.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the bench on March 7 that he would seek instructions on whether to press the separate contempt plea filed by the Centre against Bhushan in the wake of the AG’s stand that he would like to withdraw his contempt petition.