The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan on the contempt proceedings initiated against him for his alleged derogatory tweets against the judiciary, saying his statements prima facie "brought the administration of justice in disrepute".
While referring to recent tweets by Bhushan, the apex court said these statements are prima facie capable of "undermining the dignity and authority" of the institution of the Supreme Court in general and the office of Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, which took suo motu (on its own) cognisance in the matter, also issued notice to Attorney General K K Venugopal seeking his assistance.
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, also asked Twitter Inc. to file its reply in the matter.
"We are, prima facie, of the view that the aforesaid statements on Twitter have brought the administration of justice in disrepute and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the institution of Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large," the bench said in its order.
"We take suo motu cognizance of the aforesaid tweet also apart from the tweet quoted above (in the order) and suo motu register the proceedings," the bench said, adding, "We issue notice to the Attorney General for India and to Prashant Bhushan, Advocate also."
The bench noted in its order that a petition was placed before it "on the administrative side whether it should be listed for hearing or not as permission of the Attorney General for India has not been obtained by the petitioner to file this petition."
"After examining the matter on administrative side, we have directed the matter to be listed before the court to pass appropriate orders. We have gone through the petition," the bench said and referred to one of the tweets "made against the CJI".
It also referred to another tweet by Bhushan on June 27.
During the hearing, senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for Twitter, told the bench that Twitter India has wrongly been made a party in the matter and it should have been Twitter INC.
He also told the bench that if the top court directs, then Twitter would disable the alleged contemptuous tweets.
The bench noted in its order that Poovayya has "submitted that the Twitter Inc., California, USA is the correct description on which the tweets were made by Prashant Bhushan."
"Let the reply be also filed by them," the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on August 5.
Bhushan has been raising issues pertaining to judiciary and recently he was critical of the way in which the top court handled the matters related to migrant workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier also, the apex court in November 2009, had issued contempt notice to Bhushan for allegedly casting aspersions on some sitting and former top court judges in an interview to a news magazine.
The matter which was not heard by the apex court as per the record available on the top court’s website since May 2012 is now listed for hearing on July 24.
It is scheduled to be heard by a bench headed by Justice Mishra on Friday (July 24) as per the list of business uploaded on the apex court website.