Supreme Court on 15th December 2020 agreed to hear on an application filed by Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan on 14th December 2020, seeking a direction from the Apex Court that the two plea's praying review of the orders of conviction for contempt of court be heard after the adjudication of the petition raising the issue of right of appeal.
A three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari allowed the prayer while considering the plea in chamber.
The bench upon perusing papers made the Order as follows: For the reasons mentioned in the application (I.A. No. 131968 of 2020) and in the interest of justice, the same is allowed in terms of prayer (I).
The Apex court had on August 14, 2020 held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his two contemptuous tweets against the judiciary, saying they cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in the public interest. Later, the Apex court had on August 31 sentenced him to either pay nominal fine of Re 1 or face a three-month jail term and debarment from law practice for three years in the case. Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan on 14th December 2020 moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction that his two pleas, in which he has sought review of the orders convicting and sentencing him for contempt of court for his tweets against the judiciary, be heard after adjudication of his separate petition raising the issue of right to appeal in such matter. In his petition seeking review of the order holding him guilty for contempt of court for his two derogatory tweets against the judiciary, Bhushan has contended that it "suffers from multiple errors apparent on the face of the record of both law and of fact". Earlier, the bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar scheduled the application to consider in-chamber on Wednesday his two petitions seeking review of the apex court’s orders by which he was convicted and sentenced in the contempt case. After the apex court’s orders in the contempt case, Bhushan had filed a separate petition on September 12, 2020 seeking directions including that person convicted for criminal contempt by top court, including him, would have a right to an intra-court appeal to be heard by a larger and different bench. The petition has said that right of appeal is a fundamental right guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India is also guaranteed under international law i.e., Article 14(5) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and this would act as a “vital safeguard against wrongful conviction and would truly enable the provision of truth as a defence”. The plea, to which the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Registrar of the apex court have been made parties, has also sought a direction for framing rules and guidelines “providing for intra-court appeal against conviction in original criminal contempt cases”. [READ ORDER]