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CJI not same as SC, says defiant Bhushan

August 04, 2020 07:28 AM

COURTESY TOI AUG 4

CJI not same as SC, says defiant Bhushan
Dhananjay.Mahapatra@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:

Standing firm on his two tweets criticising the CJI and his four predecessors which led to initiation of contempt proceedings against him, activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan defiantly detailed why he believes the Supreme Court has capitulated before the excesses of a majoritarian government in the last six years.


In response to a two-page suo motu contempt notice from the SC, Bhushan filed a 132-page affidavit detailing numerous cases, the overwhelming majority of which were represented by him, where, he alleged, the SC failed to act by "abdicating its duty to protect basic constitutional values, fundamental rights of citizens and the rule of law".

Citing the views of former judges Madan B Lokur and A P Shah, Bhushan defended his tweets as a bona fide expression of his views on developments over the last six years.

Bbhushan then went on to assert, "It cannot constitute contempt." He said if the SC deemed his tweets as contempt, then "it would stifle free speech and would constitute an unreasonable restriction on Article 19(1) (a) (right to free speech) of the Constitution".

Bhushan targets BJP over fake news

Activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the CJI was not the Supreme Court and "raising of issues of concern regarding the manner in which a CJI conducts himself... or raising issues of grave concern regarding the manner in which four CJIs have used, or failed to use, their powers as 'master of roster' to allow the spread of authoritarianism, majoritarianism, stifling of dissent, widespread political incarceration and so on, cannot and does not amount to 'scandalising or lowering of the authority’ of the court".

Bhushan regretted the part of his comment on the CJI sitting astride a motorcycle, linked to a BJP leader, when it was parked. However, he reiterated his criticism about keeping courts closed during the lockdown to deprive the needy of their right to access to justice and the incongruity of the CJI sitting on a motorbike without a mask with several people around.

The activist-lawyer used the affidavit to outline how an elected majority should function in a democracy by respecting minority rights. “In the last six years, majority rule has become majoritarianrule and electoral democracy has degenerated into electoral authoritarianism," he said.

“Minority rights are essential to any political system that calls itself democratic. Over the last six years, however, the constitutional rights of religious minorities have been systematically eroded, reducing them, especially Muslims, to the de facto status of secondrate citizens," he added.

Targeting BJP, he said, “False information or fake news which is designed to generate hate, against Muslims in particular, is being generated and spread on a mammoth scale by the social media organisation affiliated with BJP and its assorted lapdogmedia.

 
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