New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court on Monday imposed a token fine of one rupee on lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan who has been held guilty of contempt for his tweets criticising the Chief Justice SA Bobde and the judiciary.

While pronouncing the sentence, the three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said that Bhushan will be jailed for three months and will be debarred to work as a lawyer for three years if he "fails to pay the fine by September 15".

The apex court also said that it gave "several opportunities to the contemnor to express regret", noting that the Attorney General also suggested that "the contemnor may withdraw the affidavit". 

"Freedom of speech can't be curtailed but rights of others need to be respected," news agency PTI quoted the three-judge Supreme Court bench as saying.

Bhushan, 63, was found guilty by the Supreme Court for contempt for his tweets against the judiciary and CJI SA Bobde. The apex court on August 14 had noted that Bhushan's tweets "cannot be said to be a fair criticism of the functioning of the judiciary made in the public interest".

The court later reserved its verdict on the sentence to be awarded to lawyer-activist, urging Bhushan to "express regret". He, however, had refused to offer an apology to the Supreme Court for the tweets, saying what he had expressed represented his bona fide belief which he continued to hold.

"I believe that SC is the last bastion of hope for protection of fundamental rights. If I retract a statement before this court that I otherwise believe to be true or offer an insincere apology, that in my eyes would amount to contempt of my conscience & of an institution that I hold in highest esteem," Bhushan had said. 

Bhushan in couple of tweets had raised questions over judiciary while criticising it. "When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, and more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs," he had said in one of his tweets that was made on June 27. 

"CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access Justice!" he had said in one of his tweets that was made on June 29," he said in another tweet that was made on June 29.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma