Attorney General KK Venugopal, on Monday, filed a contempt of court petition against lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan for his alleged remark on the Central Government. In his tweet, Prashant Bhushan claimed that the government had misled the court about the appointment of M Nageshwar Rao as CBI’s interim Director.
Stating the severity of the issue, the petition said, “The attack on the Attorney General in such a brazen, willful and malicious way would tend to shake the very foundation of the justice delivery system.”
The contempt petition refers to the February 1 tweets of the lawyer where he alleged the Modi government of misleading the top court and possibly submitted a fabricated minutes of the meeting of the High Powered Selection (HPS) committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The tweet came in the wake of the hearing of a petition, by a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, filed by NGO ‘Common Cause’ challenging the Centre’s decision to appoint M Rao, as the interim CBI director. As a matter of fact, advocate Prashant Bhushan was representing ‘Common Cause’ in the court.
KK Venugopal, in his petition, stated that Prashant Bhushan, through his tweet, made a deliberate attempt to malign the “integrity and honesty” of the Attorney General. The Attorney General further added that Prashant Bushan’s tweet is to “scandalize or tend to scandalize and lower or tend to lower the authority of this court”. Clearing the government’s position on the issue, the Attorney General, in his plea, stated, “A mere reading of the said minutes would establish that the high powered committee, at the said meeting, had taken a decision to permit the Central government to post a suitable officer to look after the duties of the Director CBI till the appointment of a new Director.”
Moreover, the meeting of HPS committee was held earlier on January 9 and January 10 for the appointment of Mr. Rao as the interim CBI director. The petition further added that all the three members of the committee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top court judge Justice AK Sikri and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had signed the decision taken by the panel.
However, Prashant Bhushan claimed that he had spoken to HPC member and Opposition Leader Mallikarjun Kharge and tweeted afterwards. On this, Venugopal said that Kharge could never make such confirmation for a simple reason that he himself had signed the minutes of the meeting.
“If the minutes of the meeting were to be fabricated, the members of the high powered committee who constituted the majority would have to be parties to such fabrication as their signatures are contained on the very same page on which the decision is recorded in the minutes,” the plea further added.
Not only that, in the plea the Attorney General asked for a prompt action in the issue adding, “It is prayed that this court may be pleased to issue notice of contempt to the respondent (Bhushan) herein, hear him on the allegations made in this petition and convict him of committing contempt of this court and award suitable punishment as deemed appropriate by this court in the facts of this case”.
All the facts point at the fact that Prashant Bhushan has maligned the stature of the government, the Attorney General, the Supreme Court and even the Prime Minister himself.
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