NEW DELHI: A group of citizens comprising retired judges and bureaucrats, has slammed those criticising the Supreme Court's conviction of lawyer Prashant Bhushan in a contempt of court case, accusing them of using every opportunity to strike at the roots of democratic institutions like Parliament, Election Commission and the apex court.
The Supreme Court had last week held activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt for his two derogatory tweets against the judiciary.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said it would hear on August 20 the arguments on quantum of sentence to be awarded to Bhushan in the matter.
"We are deeply concerned by statements by a group of persons who wrongly claim themselves to solely represent the civil society and use every opportunity to strike at the roots of Indian democratic institutions such as Parliament, Election Commission of India, and now, the Supreme Court of India," the group said in a statement.
The group had also submitted a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind on July 30, which stated that "stray groups with hidden political agendas" and claiming to be the sole custodians of Constitution and democracy, cannot be allowed to denigrate democratic institutions, especially the apex court.
More than 100 signatories to the statement included former Mumbai High Court chief justice K R Vyas, former Sikkim HC chief justice Permod Kohli, former petroleum secretary Saurabh Chandra and former Punjab DGP P C Dogra.
They noted that Bhushan is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, and 'contempt of court' cannot be justified by any "pressure group".
"The legal profession is a solemn and serious occupation, with constitutional, professional and ethical obligations. Any violation of the principles of professional ethics by an advocate is unfortunate and unacceptable," the group said.
The statements issued by a few "pressure groups" condemning the judgment of the Supreme Court and criticising the process of judgment delivery is highly objectionable and unacceptable, it said.
"We, the concerned citizens, unequivocally oppose such pseudo activism hidden in the garb of the civil society," the group added.
The Bar Association of India (BAI), among other bodies, had come out in support of Bhushan following his conviction, saying that at a time the citizenry is facing huge challenges, the stature of the Supreme Court would stand enhanced by allowing criticism rather than taking umbrage at his remarks.