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Re: Prashant Bhushan And Another: Swivel Of Free Speech And Reasonable Restrictions

Bhumika Pardesi, Research Scholar, Symbiosis Law School, Pune, Maharashtra

Mehak Rai Sethi, Research Scholar (Law) at University School of Law & Legal Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Dwarka, Delhi

Case Review

Re: Prashant Bhushan and another: Swivel of free speech and reasonable restrictions

“Fury said to a mouse, that he met in the house, ‘Let us both go to law: I will prosecute you - Come, I’ll take no denial; We must have a trial: For really this morning I’ve nothing to do’. Said the mouse to the cur, ‘Such a trial, dear Sir, with no jury or judge, would be wasting our breath’.

“I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,” Said cunning old Fury: “I’ll try the whole cause and condemn you to death”.1 - Lewis Caroll

This short poem by Lewis Caroll in his book Alice’s adventures in the wonderland, reflects the aggravated misuse of the Law of Contempt in the constitutional democracy of India, especially in the past decade.

Recently, a 3 judge-bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India comprising of J. Arun Mishra, J. B.R. Gawai and J. Krishna Murari, inducted suo moto criminal contempt proceedings against Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Twitter (India) in lieu of two tweets posted by the advocate – one concerning a photograph of the then Chief Justice of India, Sharad Arvind Bobde, on a Harley Davidson amidst the covid-19 pandemic and the other about the functioning of the Supreme Court in the past six years under the four respective Chief Justices. The primary issue was whether the tweets issued were scandalous and targeted to lower the authority of the Supreme Court, thus falling within the bracket of section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971.

This case re-ignited the conflict of the Independence of Judiciary vs. Freedom of Speech and Expression in light of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 – an Act formulated with intention to protect independence of judiciary which is the main pillar of democracy. But the arbitrary and vague concoction of the provisions blur the difference between criticism and contempt thereby hammering the very essence of the Act’s inception, that is, strengthening the democratic framework of “we the people”.

Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research

Abbreviation: IJLLR

ISSN: 2582-8878


Accessibility: Open Access

License: Creative Commons 4.0

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​All research articles published in The Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research are fully open access. i.e. immediately freely available to read, download and share. Articles are published under the terms of a Creative Commons license which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IJLLR or its members. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the IJLLR.

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