IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CONTEMPT PETITION (CR) NO. 2/2001
IN THE MATTER OF:
J.R. PARASHAR AND ORS.
PRASHANT BHUSHAN AND ORS.
AFFIDAVIT IN REPLY ON BEHALF OF RESPONDENT NO. 1
I, Prashant Bhushan, son of Shanti Bhushan, resident of B-16, Sector 14, Noida, do hereby solemnly state and affirm as under:
That I am the first respondent in the above petition and I have read and understood the contents of the petition and my reply to it is as under:
I would like to say at the very outset that I am amazed and outraged by the fact that such a ridiculously false and malicious contempt petition should be filed by persons who call themselves lawyers. I am however more pained by the fact that such a petition should have been entertained by this court which should have seen the falsity of the allegations made against me from the nature of the allegations and the recklessness with which they have been made. The absurdity of the allegations and the recklessness with which they have been made can be gauged from the "FIR" dated 14/12/200 which the petitioners say they lodged in the Tilak Marg Police station and which contains the gravamen of the charge of this contempt petition. This "FIR" is annexed to the petition and is reproduced verbatim below:
"I, Jagdish Prasar, with colleagues Sh. Umed Singh and Rajender were going out from Supreme Court at 7.00 p.m. and saw that Gate No. C was closed. We came out from the Supreme Court premises from other path and inquired why the gate is close. The were surrounded by Prasant Bhusan, Medha Patekar and Arundhanti Roy alongwith their companion and they told the Supreme Court your father's property. On this we told them that they could not sit on Dharna by closing the Gate. The proper place of Dharna is Parliament. In the mean time Prastant Bhusan said. "You Jagdish Prasar are the tout of Judiciary. Again medha said "SALE KO JAAN SE MAR DO (kill him). Arundhanti Roy commanded the crow that Supreme Court of India is the thief and all these are this touts. KIll them, Prasant Bhushan pulled by having caught my haired and said that if you would be seen in the Supreme Court again he would get them killed. But they were shouting slogan inspite of the presence of S.H.O. and ACP Bhaskar Tilak Marg. We ran away with great with great hardship otherwise their goonda might have done some mischief because of their drunken state. Therefore it is requested to you that proper action may be taken after registering our complaint in order to save on lives and property. We complainants will be highly obliged."
Even the affidavit in support of the contempt petition has been carelessly made, without it being clear whether it is made by one or two persons or whether it is on behalf of one or all the petitioners. It should have been obvious to anyone on reading this complaint that this was reckless and ridiculously false. Even if one did not know anything of the personality and character of the three of us, it should have been obvious from the language and content of the "FIR" itself that it was absurd. The facts are these:
Though I was aware of the NBA dharna outside the Supreme Court on the 13th of December, and I must admit that I did nothing to stop it, I was not present at the Dharna. This was not because I do not sympathise with the cause of the oustees who had come for the dharna, or because I disapproved the idea of a dharna outside the court, but because I am not personally comfortable with this mode of protest. I have written about how grossly erroneous from the Majority judgement in the Sardar Sarovar case was, and the enormous injustice that it perpetrates on the oustees. I am also distressed by the fact that the the majority judges have dismissed the review petition without even giving the petitioners an oral hearing, despite such a powerful dissent by Justice Bharucha.
I went to the dharna site (outside gate No. C of the Supreme Court) briefly at around 6.30 p.m. of 13th December, when I received information in my chamber that Medha Patkar was being arrested. On reaching the site, I found that a few persons, primarily women, were still sitting outside the gate of the court along with Medha Patkar. There were a number of Policemen, Policewomen, pressmen and photographers around. I was told that most of the persons sitting on Dharna had already been taken away by the police in several buses.
Soon after I reached there, a bearded person who introduced himself as a lawyer named Parashar came to me and protested against the Dharna, saying that this should not be allowed outside the court. He did appear somewhat agitated. He however did not complain about any violence or threats to him or his friends from any of the protestors. I did not think it worthwhile to enter into an argument with him, so I did not. Shortly after I reached there, the remaining protestors were also taken away by the police in a waiting bus. I left at that time. I must have been there for less than 15 minutes.
The allegations against me that I had led this group of protestors or shouted slogans against the court, or that I had assaulted, abused or threatened the petitioner or his friends are completely false and concocted. In fact, I understand that the ridiculous FIR attached to the petition was not registered by the Tilak Marg police station because the officers of the Police station who I understand were present during the entire dharna, knew that the allegations made in the FIR were false. This is corroborated by the fact that no policeman ever contacted me, nor, I understand, Arundhati Roy or Medha Patkar in this connection.
The filing of such a false petition in court and then giving publicity to the false allegations contained in it is not only Perjury, Criminal defamation but also amounts to Criminal contempt of Court. This court has held in a number of cases that the filing of false affidavits in court with a view to mislead it amounts to Criminal Contempt of Court. I submit that it is the duty of the Court to proceed against the Petitioners for Perjury and Criminal Contempt.
However, it appears from the contents of the petition that the real motivation of the petitioners in filing this petition against me is because I have written and spoken against the Narmada Judgement and indeed written and spoken against various other judgements of this and other courts. It is obvious from the following passages of the petition that the petitioners believe that the Court should not be subjected to criticism, especially not by a practicing lawyer, particularly one who is involved in a particular case.
"11. That advocate Mr. Prasant Bhushan, Ms. Mega Patekar, the well known leader and Ms. Arundhanti Roy, the Bookar prize winner etc are well aware that the Hon'ble Supreme Court are pious constitutional authority and are not open for public and press to criticize, comment--- ----- The Contemnors have got no respect for rule of law, dignity of the profession, of which the Contemnor No. 1 is a member, and are willfully disobeying and ignoring the order of this court. Their deliberate attempt have reduced the profession and judicial system to be a mockery"
I have always believed and worked on the basis that a lawyer, especially one espousing public interest causes is fully entitled to be involved in the causes that he is espousing. In fact, I believe and have worked on the basis that a lawyer should espouse only those public interest causes that he strongly believes in and agrees with. I believe that in a public interest matter, a lawyer can and indeed should argue with his head and heart. In keeping with this principle, I have only taken up those public interest causes in Court that I believe in. While doing so, I have identified myself with the causes that I have espoused in Court. I have often participated in the public campaigns on such issues and have also written about them. I have not done so to influence the court, but to educate the people on the issues involved. I believe that in a Republic where the ultimate sovereign are the people, it is important for people to understand the issues involved in public interest cases, and also how the court has dealt with those so that proper public opinion is formed on those issues and so that people could understand the functioning of the Judiciary which is one of the pillars of the State.
Of course I believe that any writing or comment on the actions of the court must be made in a fair and dignified manner which I have always tried to do. I have not desisted from writing or commenting on cases or judgements, merely because I am a practicing lawyer in that court or that I have been the lawyer for a party in such case. In fact having been the lawyer and thus having access to all the relevant facts places a much greater responsibility to inform and educate the people about these issues.
I have also believed that improper motives must not be attributed to judges in their judicial conduct unless there is good evidence for it or unless there is no other plausible explanation for such conduct. I have always followed this precept. I believe that currently there is no working institutional system for ensuring the accountability of the judiciary, and I have for many years campaigned for a National Judicial Commission which could enforce such accountability. In such circumstances, it has become even more important for citizens and particularly lawyers to educate the people about the actions of the courts especially on issues which impact the lives of large numbers of people.
I could have even understood had the petitioners tried to raise these
issues, which have apparently motivated this petition against me, rather
than make such ridiculous and concocted charges of threats and violence. In
such circumstances, it is submitted that it would not be enough for the
court to merely dismiss this petition, but the court must initiate
proceedings for perjury and contempt against the petitioners.
I the deponent abovenamed do hereby verify that the contents of the above affidavit are true to best of my knowledge and belief and nothing material has been concealed therefrom.
Verified at New Delhi on this, the 16th day of April 2001.