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174 eminent citizens slam Prashant Bhushan in contempt case

174 eminent citizens slam Prashant Bhushan in contempt case

Two sets of “prominent personalities” have expressed diametrically opposite views on the controversial prominent lawyer Prashant Bhushan. A few days after a group of 131 grandees urged the Supreme Court to relent and withdraw its contempt notice against him, another group of 174 eminent citizens have slammed the pro-Bhushan group’s “unprincipled posturing.”

The 174-person group includes former Rajasthan chief justice Anil Deo Singh, former foreign secretary Amar Sinha, former chief election commissioner N. Gopalaswami, and former Nehru Memorial director Shakti Sinha.

In a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, "It is a matter of concern that one odd group of persons, claiming themselves to be distinguished public men of the past, has been observed to repeatedly avail of every opportunity to put Indian democracy and its sacred institutions like Parliament, Election Commission of India, and now the Supreme Court of India, in poor light before the whole world. They end up issuing ill-considered statements, and writing misconceived communications to various authorities to attract media attention.”

Earlier, the group of 131 citizens, including former Supreme Court judge Madan Lokur and Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav, had tried to shield Bhushan by asserting, “The initiation of contempt proceedings against Mr. Bhushan, who had articulated some of these concerns in his tweets, appears to be an attempt at stifling such criticism, not just by Mr. Bhushan, but by all stakeholders in the Indian democratic and constitutional set-up.”

The group of 174 retorted, claiming, “Freedom of speech is another foundation of democracy, but the freedom to speak can certainly not be misconstrued as a freedom to make a hate speech, subversive speech with the intent to shred national integrity, a diatribe undermining national sovereignty, or carrying out tirades to demolish the sacred institutions of Indian democracy.”

It also argued that the contempt case is “exclusively” between Bhushan and the apex court. But the other group, it said, has “interfered with the administration of justice.”

"We concerned citizens, hereby disapprove of this group in its acts of routinely producing a negative public narrative replete with disrespect to Indian democratic institutions," wrote the group of 174..