NEW DELHI: Days after contempt of court notice was slapped on advocate Prashant Bhushan for his two tweets, a group of 131 prominent citizens, including former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur and Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav expressed solidarity with Bhushan and urged the court to withdraw the contempt proceedings.
“In the interest of justice and fairness and to maintain the dignity of the Supreme Court of India, the proceedings should be withdrawn,” the statement reads.
It also raised concerns about the top court’s reluctance to carry out its constitutionally mandated role as a check on governmental excess and violation of fundamental rights of the people by the state.
“The initiation of contempt proceedings against Bhushan, who had articulated some of these concerns in his tweets, appears to be an attempt at stifling such criticism, not just by Bhushan, but by all stakeholders in the Indian democratic and constitutional set-up,” read the statement adding that the Supreme Court must be open to public discussion without the fear of retribution.
“The principle that criticism of the judiciary should not be stifled by indiscriminate use of the power of contempt has been recognised by SC as well as by academics and advocates of repute,” the statement said.
The signatories include historian Ramachandra Guha, ex-Delhi HC judge Justice A.P. Shah, author Arundhati Roy, Bhardwaj, lawyer Indira Jaising, among several others.