Attorney General K K Venugopal declined consent to initiate contempt proceedings against advocate Prashant Bhushan over his tweets which were critical of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde’s visit to Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
Venugopal said that Bhushan has subsequently “expressed regret for the error made”. Venugopal wrote a letter to advocate Sunil Kumar Singh, who had asked for his consent. He stated that he was initially inclined to grant consent to initiate criminal contempt of court proceedings, as he was “of the opinion that imputations contained in the three tweets to the effect that the Chief Justice of India committed an act of impropriety in accepting facilities of the State of Madhya Pradesh during his visit to Kanha National Park, while a case pertaining to the disqualification of certain members of the Assembly of Madhya Pradesh was pending before him, were wholly unwarranted, improper, devoid of legal basis and prima facie contumacious…”.
The letter also contained his thoughts over his opinion that Bhushan’s tweets were prima facie contumacious. He wrote in the letter,” Firstly, the Chief Justice of India is one of the highest constitutional functionaries in the country and is to receive protocol as befits the stature of his office. He is also entitled to ‘Z-plus security’. Additionally, in terms of the Madhya Pradesh State Guest Rules, 2011, the Chief Justice is a ‘State Guest’ and is entitled therefore to be extended facilities for the purpose of his reception, transport, and boarding.” He also stated that one should keep in mind the fact that it had been reported widely in the press that nearly about year 2016-17 Kanha National Park had been overrun by Maoists and had seen the presence of nearly 200 armed cadre, therefore, Chief Justice standing away from his Z-plus security would have been an unsafe, weak and sensitive where he needs to and did travel by road on his convoy.
Therefore, the Chief Justice of India transported via helicopter was one of the best and most appreciated decisions by the State Government. He finished his thoughts regarding prima facie contumacious by saying, “The imputation of impropriety therefore was improper and without application of mind to these realities and is contumacious.” Venugopal pointed out that the attempt to link the receipt of facilities, to which the CJI is in any event entitled, to the pendency of a case of disqualification of members of the Assembly The destiny of the MP Government does not depend upon the outcome by this case as the resignation of said MLAs had already been accepted the previous speaker. Venugopal also said that after knowing that a request has been made to him regarding prosecuting the consent of contempt in the supreme court and the person making the request ( Bhushan herein) had realized his mistake in connecting the facilities provided to the chief justice of India by Madhya Pradesh Government to the fate of members of the assembly of Madhya Pradesh Government. Concluding on the matter, Venugopal stated that Bhushan had “expressed regret for the error made in his earlier tweet on 21.10.2020. He has stated publicly that it was incorrect to state that the fate of the Government of Madhya Pradesh depended on the case pending”