The Bar Council of India (BCI) has come down heavily on advocate Prashant Bhushan for his recent remarks on the Supreme Court and its judges.
Bhushan, at a webinar organized by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) on August 10, had criticized the Supreme Court, stating that in its recent decisions in Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases, the top court had virtually abdicated its role as the guardian of civil liberties and fundamental rights of the people in India.
“These judgments in Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar and PMLA are extremely painful. This takes the assault of the Supreme Court or abdication of its duty to a different level where the person who has petitioned the Supreme Court is now being penalized of having approached the Supreme Court and the same thing they have done in the Himanshu Kumar case. It is really something beyond bizarre that the Supreme Court has done,” he had said.
During his speech, Bhushan had also passed critical remarks against the former judges of the Supreme Court.
He went on to name the former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who, Bhushan said, had delivered the Ayodhya and Rafale judgments before his retirement and was made a member of the Rajya Sabha soon after his retirement.
He had also named former Supreme Court judge Justice Arun Mishra, who immediately after his retirement was made the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and was allowed to retain his official bungalow for 9 months in violation of the rules.
Bhushan also criticised Justice AM Khanwilkar who recently retired after delivering Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) judgments.
The BCI, in a press release issued on Friday, stated that the utterances by Bhushan are not only ridiculous “but are reprehensible and a tirade against the nation.”
“Persons like Mr. Bhushan have never been the Champions of Civil Liberties, rather, by doing such nonsense acts, they succeed in giving message to the world that they are anti-Indians. In fact, such people are misusing the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression. We cannot imagine existence of such people like Prashant in countries like China and Russia,” the press release said.
We cannot imagine existence of such people like Prashant in countries like China and Russia.
Bar Council of India
To the issue raised by advocate Bhushan on the post-retirement appointment of the judges, the BCI said that such appointments cannot be criticized in such an indecent manner since under various statutes, there are certain posts which can be assigned only to the retired judges.
“Bar Councils have always been raising the issue, but, in respectful manner before the appropriate forum. Maligning the image of our judges or the institution for these matters is quite improper and unjustified,” the press release stated.
Unless the sanctity and authority of the judiciary is maintained, it cannot be expected the Bar to be stronger and similarly for a strong and independent judiciary, a strong and fearless bar is the requirement.
“No one has the authority to ridicule the Supreme Court of India, its Judges or the Judiciary. You cannot make mockery of the system, as the citizen of India more so, so long as you are an advocate, or else be ready to face the consequences. You can criticize anyone, but, you cannot cross the Laxman Rekha, always mind your language. The licence to practice does not empower you misuse your position as a lawyer,” the bar body reminded.
Therefore, the BCI was of the view that even though the Supreme Court may hesitate in initiating contempt proceedings against Bhushan, however, the Bar Councils will not tolerate such nuisance by an advocate.
“You cannot make mockery of the system, as the citizen of India more so, as you are an Advocate, or else be ready to face the consequences. You can criticize anyone, but, you cannot cross the Laxman Rekha,” the press release said.