Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who refused to apologise for his tweets on Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the Supreme Court, should be let go with a warning, the government's top lawyer KK Venugopal said on Tuesday, August 25.
"Tell us what is to be done. We expected a different statement," the Supreme Court had asked Attorney General Venugopal, to which he replied, "Let him go with a warning."
Attorney General Venugopal said that several sitting and retired judges had commented on the corruption in the higher judiciary in the past.
"These statements would only be to tell the Court that you should look at the unclear and reform yourself," said the Attorney General, adding that Bhushan may be given a warning but need not be punished.
Venugopal also said that the lawyer has filed multiple PILs for the benefit of people and the court should consider his public work.
Venugopal said: "I myself wanted to file a contempt against Prashant Bhushan when two CBI officers were fighting, and he said I fabricated documents. But after he expressed regret, I withdrew. Let the democracy follow in this case when he has exercised his free speech."
He said it would be "tremendously appreciated" if the court left it at that and took a compassionate view.
"If he believes he has done no wrong, what's the purpose of this warning," Justice Mishra questioned.
When Attorney General Venugopal urged the court not to consider his response, Justice Mishra questioned: "How can we not? Everyone is criticising us that we haven't considered his response which according to us is even more derogatory. Now if we remove it, we will be blamed we deleted this on our own."
The Attorney General requested the judges to allow advocate Bhushan withdraw his statement. "Let this court show statesmanship and not use the powers of contempt because of this affidavit."
On August 24, Bhushan, held guilty of contempt, had refused to apologise after the three-day time window given by the apex court. Bhushan said that an apology would be contempt of his conscience.
The top court, on August 14, had held Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt for his two tweets against the judiciary saying they cannot be seen as a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in public interest.