The Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) on whose rolls counsel Prashant Bhushan is registered, has given a notice to him asking him to explain why disciplinary proceedings under the Lawyers Act 1961 should not be held against him since the apex court found him guilty of contempt of court.
In this sense, the BCD also demanded Bhushan to appear before it either in person or via its approved representative on October 23.
This came after the BCD was ordered by the Bar Council of India (BCI) on September 4 to investigate whether the conviction of Bhushan for contempt of court caused disciplinary proceedings against him under the Advocates Act, 1961.
The BCI claimed that it was the opinion that the tweets and comments made by Prashant Bhushan and the Supreme Court’s judgment enable the Bar Council to perform a detailed review of the legislative roles, jurisdiction and functions bestowed on it under the 1961 Advocates Act and the rules set out therein, in particular Section 24A and Section 35 of the 1961 Advocates Act and Chapter-II, Part VI of the Bar Council of Rules.
Section 24A of the Advocates Act allows for disqualification from inter-alia admission on the basis that the applicant is guilty of a moral turpitude crime.
Section 36 deals with the punitive rights of the Bar Council of India over advocates’ wrongdoing.
On August 14, the SC found lawyer Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for his two tweets involving the Supreme Court’s institution and the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
Bhushan said in his first tweet on June 27, “When historians look back on the past six years in the future to see how democracy in India has been undermined even without a formal emergency, they will notably mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, and more specifically the role of the last four CJIs.”
Similarly, the second June 29 tweet reflected on a viral image of CJI Bobde on a Harley Davidson bike. The tweet in question read: “CJI is riding a 50 lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader in Raj Bhavan, Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when it holds the SC in lockout mode, denying people their basic right to access justice!”
A Justice Mishra-led three-judge bench ruled that the tweets were an effort to rock the very core of liberal democracy and that a ‘hard fist’ must also be dealt with.
The bench added that if the attack is not dealt with, it will impact the national honour of India and its reputation in the comity of nations with a necessary degree of firmness.
On 31 August, the Court handed down the penalty to Bhushan by imposing a fine of Rs . 1, failing which he will be sentenced to 3 months in prison and 3 years debarred from practising in the supreme court.
Recently, Bhushan filed a petition for review against the judgement finding him guilty of contempt. The same issue is also awaiting review by the Judge. In line with the Court’s order earlier this month, he deposited Rs.1/-as fine.