Under ordinary circumstances, the Supreme Court announces punishment once it has somebody guilty. In case of Prashant Bhushan’s contempt of court, the Supreme Court has been insisting on an apology. Why does the Supreme Court appear to be fixated on this case? The Supreme Court Bar is divided on the argument of the difference between contempt of court and the right to criticise under freedom of speech. The law of contempt in India includes civil contempt and criminal contempt.
While there has been a lot of value in what has been said, it is important to hold Prashant Bhushan liable for the case. It is not about Bhushan committing verbal transgression. Rather, it is about the top Court being dragged into a constitutional and moral debate by some of the highest functionaries.
Bhushan can remind Justice Mishra that a true apology is for someone to extend forgiveness or hand the other the power for any mistake or wrongdoings. So, an apology is not a legal trick to wriggle out responsibility. A true apology emanates from within, as a sincere dialogue without any coercion or manipulation. This is exactly what is not happening in the Supreme Court regarding Bhushan’s case, which has been built on his tweets that contain his bona fide beliefs, including his firm belief in the freedom of expression as his highest duty as a citizen.
The Court, however, seems to be saying that whatever hurts the sentiments of SC judges, true or false, is in itself wrong. When you apologise for something, you silently tell the victim that your approval is more than your personal feelings. Insecure and fake apologies are morally useless and socially ineffective — which is what is happening in this case. Finally, we are expecting a hearing that answers the fundamental question of law and democracy. If truth scandalises the judiciary, it is really a contempt of court? It brings out the lack of ability to assess justice to the citizens of a country and raises questions on India’s strong and independent judiciary.