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Indian Supreme Court fines lawyer one rupee for tweets in 'very dangerous' decision

Prashant Bhushan, an Indian public interest lawyer, who was fined one rupee for posting tweets that were critical of the Indian Supreme Court, called the decision “very dangerous”.

The Court imposed the fine for having “brought the administration of justice in disrepute and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the institution of Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large”.

Many had feared a much more serious outcome, as Bhushan was facing a six-month sentence in prison. The tweets in question criticized the Supreme Court for participating in “how democracy has been destroyed in India” and included a photograph of Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde on a motorbike. In July, the tweets were removed by Twitter.

Mr. Bhushan said in a statement that he believes the Supreme Court is the “last bastion of hope for the weak and oppressed,” and that he will respectfully pay the fine. 

“I am not saying there are no vile or scandalous, scurrilous allegations being made against judges. They are. But they are dismissed for what they are. People understand that these are scurrilous and unsubstantiated allegations. The respect for the judiciary does not stand on the ability of the court to stifle this kind of criticism even it is sometimes scurrilous and unfair,” Mr. Bhushan added.

“Every citizen in a democracy, those who are familiar with the working of the judicial system and the Supreme Court, should be able to speak freely but unfortunately that has also been treated as contempt of court by scandalising.”

See more from the Times of India here and the Hindu here.

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