New Delhi: A day after the Supreme Court reserved its verdict, activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Thursday moved a plea seeking to present additional evidence if the court is not satisfied with his submissions that the contempt was not made out against him for his two tweets allegedly against judiciary.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, which on July 22, had issued show cause notice to Bhushan after initiating the criminal contempt against him for his two alleged derogatory tweets against the judiciary, had reserved the verdict on Wednesday.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave defended Bhushan before the bench, which also comprised Justices R Gavai and Krishan Murari, and had said on Wednesday that the tweets were against the judges regarding their conduct in their personal capacity and did not obstruct administration of justice.
In the fresh plea, filed through lawyer Kamini Jaiswal on Thursday, Bhushan said, "In case the court is not satisfied by my preliminary reply and wishes to proceed further in the matter allow me to lead further evidence u/s 17(5) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, after supplying copy of the complaint by Mehak Maheshwari to me..."
Referring to judgements in support of the plea, Bhushan said he had earlier submitted a preliminary reply to explain his tweets and the law laid down on the issue to highlight that the contempt notice was not sustainable.
The plea said the second tweet was not allegedly referred to in the contempt petition filed by Maheshwari and hence, it be sent to the Chief Justice S A Bobde for placing it before a bench.
"Direct that proceedings as regards the suo motu notice issued to me with respect to tweet of June 27, be placed before the Chief Justice of India for allocation of bench as per Para 39 of Vijay Kurle...," the plea said.
The court having taken cognizance of the second tweet is required to initiate it as a separate proceeding, it said.
While reserving the order in the contempt case, the top court had dismissed a separate petition filed by Bhushan seeking recall of the July 22 order by which notice was issued against him in a contempt proceeding initiated for his alleged contemptuous tweets against the judiciary.
It had not agreed the contention Dave that the separate plea had raised objection against the manner in which the contempt proceedings were started without the opinion of Attorney General K K Venugopal and it be sent to another bench.
Earlier, Bhushan, in his 142-page reply affidavit, had stood by his two tweets.
He had said the expression of opinion, “however outspoken, disagreeable or unpalatable to some”, cannot constitute contempt of court.
He, in the affidavit, has referred to several apex court judgements, speeches of former and serving judges on contempt of court and the “stifling of dissent” in a democracy and his views on judicial actions in some cases.
While referring to the tweets by Bhushan, the apex court had said these statements are prima facie capable of "undermining the dignity and authority" of the institution of the Supreme Court in general and the office of Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of the public at large.
Bhushan along with former Union Minister Arun Shourie and veteran journalist N Ram have also moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of a legal provision, dealing with criminal contempt on the ground of “scandalizing the court”, saying it was violative freedom of speech and right to equality.