The Judiciary, a vital part of the Indian democracy, has always deserved the highest honour. Justice by our courts only comes next to the justice of God. But when questions are raised on the justice of this Judiciary itself, who will defend it?
Well, the answer lies in the questions itself. If the Judiciary, or the judges associated to it, are despised or disobeyed, then the Constitution of India gives them the right the punish those who despise the Judiciary. This is called ‘contempt of court’ in simple language. This contempt of court has been imposed even on renowned people.
The latest case of this nature was related to senior advocate and activist Prashant Bhushan. The background of the case begins with Bhushan’s tweets, which he made on one current and former four Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. Consequently, he was found guilty of contempt of court and asked for an apology. After this verdict, the entire diaspora got been divided into two parts. While some people supported him, others opposed him. Everyone has their own arguments.
The most bizarre thing related to this incident is its punishment. The penalty that Bhushan was asked to fill in the Court was just Re 1. This clearly shows that the Court just wanted to give him a symbolic punishment. Some similar symbolic punishments given earlier in the history of Indian judiciary include a fine of Rs 50 from former Chief Minister of Kerala EMS Namboodiripad in charge of contempt of court. But here in Bhushan’s case, the alternative punishment that the Supreme Court set in lieu of not paying the penalty — an imprisonment of three months along with a moratorium of three years from practicing law — raises questions.
Well, seeing this, it is not difficult to decide that there was a huge amount of difference between the original punishment and the alternative punishment. With a penalty of just one rupee, the Court stated its stand of the punishment being symbolic. But if this was the case indeeed, then why did the Court not keep the alternative punishment symbolic as well?
Shouldn’t the alternative punishment also be symbolic? For example, a one-day sentence? And it has happened before. The same Supreme Court, when it found former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh guilty in the contempt of court in the Babri Masjid case, was sentenced a one-day sentence. Shouldn’t the Supreme Court have looked into the pages of Kalyan Singh’s case while deciding Bhushan’s alternative punishment?
There must be a sense of proportionality in the original and alternative punishment. If this can happen in case of Kalyan Singh, then why not in case of Prashant Bhushan as well? Bhushan is supposed to be an eminent civil rights advocate who has been continuously filling PILs on important issues of society. Is it reasonable to propose a moratorium of three years for such a person who has always tried to empower the judiciary? If such a person doesn’t practice, then society is sure to suffer.
The Indian Judiciary remains one of the most credible pillars of democracy even today. This thinking should remain intact. And for this, the whole legal fraternity will have to work together without any external pressure. The present time is unprecedented and the justice system must take the responsibility for safeguarding democracy.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”