The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over lawyers going public on sub-judice matters, saying the practice was “very common nowadays” and may amount to interference in the administration of justice.
The remarks came from a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha while it was hearing petitions filed by Attorney General K K Venugopal and the Centre, seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Advocate Prashant Bhushan over his tweets in connection with a pending case of appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim CBI Director.
The bench said the petitions raised questions of “vital importance, whether in a sub-judice matter, it is open to criticise court proceedings…that may affect right of litigants involved and have tendency to interfere with administration of justice”.
The A-G said he did not want any punishment for Bhushan but “the law on this may be declared once and for all” so that everyone knows the limits of commenting on sub-judice matters.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, however, said there should be a “deterrent punishment” and the “person responsible has to be told in no uncertain terms that this is the limit to the court’s magnanimity”.
Justice Mishra said the “Bar has to be protector of judiciary” and added that now if “Bar is out to kill judiciary, what can be done”?
The A-G replied that only some sections of the Bar were indulging in such actions.
S-G Mehta said there were several instances in recent past when some lawyers who lose their case publicly call it a “black day in judicial history” and added that their attempt is to convey that the judiciary as an institution cannot be trusted. The “tendency”, he said was “rampant and growing”.
When the S-G sought punishment for Bhushan, the bench said the court should be the last to think of punishing lawyers and added that it would settle larger questions and the other issues will be settled automatically.
The court will hear the matter next on March 7.