New Delhi: Advocate Prashant Bhushan in a response to Bar Council of Delhi (BCD), seeking his appearance before it on October 23 following his conviction by the Supreme Court in contempt case, said the Bar Council should stand in solidarity with the rights of the members of the legal profession.
Bhushan said the Bar Council should not have taken cognizance of the judgment of the Supreme Court which severely constricted and abridged the freedom, rights and dignity of the members of the Bar and also ordinary citizens.
“I submit that the Supreme Court judgments holding me guilty of criminal contempt and further sentencing me for the same, are a fundamental assault on the freedom of speech and independence of the Bar”, said Bhushan in a 17-page response.
Bhushan contended that the Supreme Court in its judgement on August 31, did not refer the matter to the Bar Council to initiate proceedings against him.
“The Court has closed the case by sentencing me to a token fine of rupee one which I have paid without prejudice to my rights and contentions taken in the review petition”, he added.
The BCD move had come following the September 6, resolution of the Bar Council of India (BCI), asking its Delhi chapter to take a legally-mandated decision in the matter, in the backdrop of his conviction in the contempt case for his tweets against the judiciary.
BCD sought Bhushan’s response why proceedings should not be initiated to revoke his enrolment as a lawyer.
Bhushan, citing favourable voices of lawyers and judges in his support, said: “I request the BCD to take a firm stand in support of the freedom of speech and expression of the Bar as the very freedom, dignity, rights and independence of the Bar are at stake. Independence of the Bar and the legal profession is necessary for the survival of democracy and indeed the Constitution itself.”
Bhushan submitted that his conviction for committing criminal contempt was not a conviction for “an offence involving moral turpitude”, as is the requirement under Section 24A of the Advocates Act.
“The posting of the two tweets in question was only an expression of freedom of speech, which is guaranteed to me by the Constitution and also by the Advocates Act”, said Bhushan.
He added that in case the BCD does not accept this response and chooses to initiate proceedings against him, then he would then file a detailed response as per procedure.