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Prashant Bhushan 'should go' for review before Supreme Court constitutional bench

Prashant Bhushan at a Narmada Bachao Andolan meet
By Medha Patkar*
The verdict in the contempt case against Prashant Bhushanji is something to be pondered over by us all. The court has not withdrawn nor reviewed its first order holding him guilty of contempt. 
The judiciary, however, has tried to take cognizance of the voice of the voiceless, one raised by Prashantji for people in Narmada river valley and in the struggles for justice in every sector, and the Voice for Freedom raised by the countless number of people upholding the courage, commitment and truthfulness by this fearless advocate of human and constitutional rights. It has certainly noted the support to the legal and social battle by the former justices and bar associations across the country.
The judgement by the Apex Court has been delivered today when it was not just magnanimity but it’s sensitivity and commitment to the freedom of speech and expression as well as every constitutional right of each citizen that was at stake.
When lakhs and lakhs of people have removed all blinkers and begun speaking out in support, the Hon Members of the Hon Bench couldn’t be narrow minded or reactive, nor could it be self- indulgent and had to be generous and considerate.
When the attempt to make Prashantji apologise didn’t work, the Hon Court had to rethink on its position although couldn’t revert back. The order on the sentence passed on August 31 indicates the Court’s interest in giving a second chance to close the matter with a symbolic punishment.
Medha Patkar
However, the Hon Bench hasn’t stopped at charging Re 1 as fine, rather has allowed him to have a choice which is again perturbing for anyone who would weigh it carefully. When the alternative to paying fine is 3 years judicial custody and (not ‘or’) ban from appearing in the supreme court for 3 years is equated with Re 1, one wonders whether this is undermining monetary value as punishment or considering jail and the bar as non- deterrent.
Now we know that the Hon Court has stuck to its position on the contempt and whatever may be the choice by Prashantji, they want him to accept and respect the Hon Court’s order, which is admitting contempt.
Taking the legal battle forward, Prashantji can and should certainly go for a curative/review, before the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, and sensible and sensitive citizens committed to civil liberties and freedom of expression must continue to support him in further fight for justice, inside and outside the court, through Bar Associations as well as people’s movements.
We, at Narmada Bachao Andolan, stand with Prashant Bhushanji, ready to accept and support his Satyagrahi decision. We are also ready to pay Re 1 if the Hon Court considers our expression of support too as nothing short of contempt.
---
*Leader, Narmada Bachao Andolan

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