The Supreme Court today issued a contempt notice to senior advocate Prashant Bhushan for his tweet alleging that the centre furnished fabricated minutes of the High Powered Committee meeting on the selection of M Nageshwar Rao as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha directed Bhushan to respond to contempt applications moved separately by Attorney General KK Venugopal and the Centre. Bhushan has been given three weeks to respond and the matter will next be heard on March 7.
The Apex court said that while the Bar had a right to criticize judgments, comments and articles made by lawyers in a pending judicial proceeding can affect administration of justice.
The bench said it would deal with the larger question of whether it is open for lawyers or any other person to criticise the court in a sub judice matter which would lead to influencing public opinion. Criticising the court may also lead to interference in the course of justice, the bench added.
Venugopal said he does not seek punishment for Bhushan but wants a guideline from the court to prevent such instances in future. However, the solicitor general Tushar Mehta demanded punishment saying that the magnanimity shown by the court is being misunderstood as the institution’s weakness and the limit of that magnanimity has been breached.