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Prashant Bhushan rejects Supreme Court offer to apologise over tweets

Prashant Bhushan on Thursday rejected the Supreme Court’s offer to apologise for tweets he was convicted of contempt for, Bar & Bench reported. Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, Bhushan said that he would welcome the court’s sentencing, and would not apologise unconditionally. Even though he submitted this in court, the Supreme Court gave Bhushan time until August 24 to change his mind. He held fast to his argument that his statements did not constitute contempt of court.

In Bhushan’s conviction on August 14, the Supreme Court had said that his tweets, where he complained about the Supreme Court continuing to be closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court found him guilty of “damaging the confidence in our judicial system and demoraliz[ing] the Judges of the highest court by making malicious attacks.” Bhushan had also posted a tweet that described recent chief justices’ terms in the court in stark terms, saying historians would “particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction [of democracy], & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”

Bhushan’s tweets were restricted in India without an explicit written legal demand. The Justice Arun Mishra-led bench told advocate Sajan Poovayya, who was representing Twitter, that it shouldn’t have to issue an order for the tweets to be taken down even after it was flagged for contempt. After Twitter complied in spite of the lack of written instructions, the Supreme Court discharged Twitter from the case, accepting its legal argument that it was not liable in the case due to exceptions for intermediary liability under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

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