March 7: In the matter pertaining to the comments over the appointment of CBI interim director, Advocate Prashant Bhushan on Thursday admitted before the Supreme Court that his tweet was "genuine mistake".
Following Mr. Bhushan's submission, Attorney General KK Venugopal preferred to withdraw his contempt plea against him. He said,
“He admits that it was a genuine mistake. I don’t want to continue the case against him”.
Pertinently, Mr. Bhushan who appeared for NGO Common Cause in their case, on February 1, using his Twitter handle alleged that the government had misled the court and might have provided fabricated documents of the meeting.
Mr. Bhushan also moved an application seeking recusal of Justice Arun Mishra from hearing the contempt petition filed by Venugopal.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing on behalf of Bhushan said,
“It is nothing personal. It is a bona fide request to send the matter to another Bench”.
However, Attorney General KK Venugopal, opposed the recusal application, alleging that it is an afterthought and not bona fide. He also remarked about Mr. Bhushan,
"He has poisoned minds of public against me, the Central government and members of High Powered Committee (which approved the appointment of Nageswara Rao as interim CBI Director)."
During the course of arguments, Justice Mishra asked Mr.Dave whether Mr. Bhushan was willing to tender unconditional apology so that the recusal application moved by him could be disposed of.
Nonetheless, Mr. Bhushan declined to tender an unconditional apology before the bench for seeking Justice Mishra's recusal.
Mr. Venugopal also said that he would not change his stand and stood by his earlier statement that he did not want any punishment for Mr. Bhushan in the matter.
The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on March 29.
Mr. Bhushan in his tweet said that during a conversation with a member of HPC as well as with Opposition Leader Mallikarjun Kharge, they denied about the decision or any sort of discussion in the HPC regarding the appointment of Mr. Rao as interim chief.
In pursuant to the tweet, Attorney General KK Venugopal and the Centre filed petitions against Mr. Prashant Bhushan alleging that Mr Bhushan seemed to have purposely expected to cast slanders on the "trustworthiness and genuineness" of the Attorney General who had submitted the minutes of the meeting before the Top Court during the hearing of the case.
In response to which the Court last month issued a notice to Mr. Bhushan and said that it would deal with the larger question, whether it is allowed to lawyers or any other individual to criticise the Court in a sub judice matter which would result in influencing public opinion.