Govt Wants Prashant Bhushan To Be Punished Over Tweets Alleging Govt Misled SC On CBI Chief Appointment
The Supreme Court on February 6, 2019, issued a notice to lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan after the centre and Attorney General accused him of contempt for his tweets on the matter of appointment of Nagershwar Rao as the interim Chief of the Central Bureau Of Investigation. Mr Bhushan present in the court accepted the notice and asked for three weeks’ time to file a reply. The case is set to be heard on March 7, reported NDTV.
What has happened?
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that Mr Bhushan’s tweet accused the government of misleading the Supreme Court when petitions against Mr Rao’s appointment were still pending in court. However, Mr Venugopal who filed a separate petition on the issue has said that he does not want to press for punishment and rather wants a decision on the larger issue of lawyers discussing sub-judice matter in public domain. On the other hand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing central govt has said that the Centre wants Bhushan to be punished as this is not something that he has done for the first time. “The Attorney General is magnanimous. But the Centre wants Bhushan punished as this is not the first instance he has done this,” said Mehta.
In the month of January, Mr Rao’s appointment as interim Chief of CBI was challenged in court by the non-profit Common Cause. Bhushan is representing the NGO. On February 1, Mr Bhushan through his series of tweets contended the Centre’s version of events. It stated that the decision to appoint Mr Rao was taken at a meeting on January 11, and differed from what Mallikarjun Kharge said.
Mr Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the leader of the largest opposition party was one of three members of the panel that took the decision on the CBI appointments. Other two members in the meeting were Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and the Chief Justice of India.
Mr Bhushan’s tweet said that he has confirmed from Mr Kharge that no decision or discussion in high powered committee (HPC) meeting was taken regarding the appointment of Nageswara Rao as interim Director of CBI. His tweet further said that government has misled the court and might have submitted fabricated minutes of the HPC meeting.
I have just confirmed personally from the Leader of Opposition Mr Kharge that no discussion or decision in HPC meet was taken re appt of Nageswara Rao as interim Director CBI.The govt appears to have misled the court and perhaps submitted fabricated minutes of the HPC meeting! https://t.co/MbEC5YLjkD
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) February 1, 2019
KK Venugopal underscoring the matter said that Mr Bhushan should have asked for the minutes of the meeting instead of tweeting it out. He further mentioned that the time has come to put guidelines on whether lawyers can write on a matter that’s sub judice. The court said that it was not averse to media reporting on court proceedings, but the lawyers involved in a case should desist from making a public statement in a sub-judice matter.
Venugopal claimed that Bhushan through his tweet had deliberately obstructed in the administration of justice and cast aspersions on his integrity reported Livemint.