Willing to go to jail, won’t say sorry: Shanti Bhushan

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NEW DELHI - Former law minister Shanti Bhushan Wednesday told the Supreme Court that he and his lawyer son Prashant Bhushan would prefer to go to jail instead of tendering an apology for pointing to corruption in the judiciary.

Bhushan told this to the court after he and his son were asked if they were willing to offer an apology.

The former law minister told the apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice H.L. Dattu that he was speaking for himself and his son Prashant Bhushan.

The senior Bhushan said this when he was asked by the court whom he was speaking for.

He bacame a party to the contempt case by filing an affidavit saying that of 16 chief justices’ of India, eight were “definitely corrupt”, six were “definitely honest” and for two of them “a definite opinion cannot be expressed.”

The court is hearing a contempt petition against the senior counsel Prashant Bhushan and managing editor of Tehelka magazine, Tarun Tejpal.

The contempt proceedings were initiated after Prashant Bhushan in an interview to Tehelka levelled allegation of corruption against the sitting judges of the apex court.

Prashant Bhushan in his interview had alleged that Justice S.H. Kapadia (now the Chief Justice of India) who had the shares in Sterlite company decided a mining lease case in favour of the company.

The court took serious objection to the senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan saying “the fact that there is corruption in judiciary is not in doubt”.

Reframing his statement, Dhawan said that former chief justice S.P. Barucha had said that 20 percent of judges in the country were corrupt.

To this, Justice Kabir said “he did not say that. It was other way round” meaning that Justice Barucha had said that 80 percent of judges were honest. That the remaining 20 percent were corrupt was an inference drawn by the people, he said.

Justice Kabir said that you can say there is “a little doubt” that there is corruption in judiciary.

Appearing for Tejpal, Dhawan said that the concern expressed in the Tehelka magazine were “bonafide” and “genuine”.

He said that question is if there were genuine and bonafide concerns about the state of affairs in judiciary then how they could be dealt with.

He questioned the summery procedure of initiating the contempt proceedings against the alleged contemnor. He said that there was no mechanism by which genuine grievances or concerns about the judicial functioning could be addressed.

He told the court that it was dealing with a case of “constructive contempt”. The question is was it a malafide and mischievous exercise of editorial powers.

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