The Bar Council of Delhi has sent a show cause notice to senior advocate Prashant Bhushan. It has asked Prashant Bhushan to appear before it, and show cause why action should not be taken against him over his tweets, that allegedly resulted in ‘contempt of court. The Supreme Court had held Bhushan guilty of contempt. On August 31, imposed a fine of Re. 1 on Bhushan as punishment for criminal contempt of court.
Soon the ball was in the Bar Council of India’s court, for any further disciplinary action, and on September 3, the BCI opined that the matter requires consideration in light of Sections 24A and 35 of the Advocates’ Act, 1961, reported Bar and Bench. The Bar Council of India (BCI) has opined that the tweets by Advocate Prashant Bhushan which had triggered criminal contempt proceedings as well as the judgment convicting Bhushan for contempt needs a thorough study and examination.
The matter then was by the BCI referred to the Bar Council of Delhi, where Prashant Bhushan is enrolled as an advocate. The BCD has now issued him a notice, asking him to appear on October 23, and explain why he should not face disciplinary action. He also has to send his response within the next 15 days.
The senior advocate reacted on social media, to the Bar Council’s notice, and said it “cites Sec 24A of the Advocates Act which says that an Advocate will not be enrolled if convicted for an offence of moral turpitude. For the Bar Council, Contempt by critical comment is moral turpitude”
Now the Bar Council’s notice on the basis of the SC order on my ‘Contempt’! It cites Sec 24A of the Advocates Act which says that an Advocate will not be enrolled if convicted for an offence of moral turpitude. For the Bar Council, Contempt by critical comment is moral turpitude! pic.twitter.com/mjBcUX4jcx
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) September 23, 2020
He also shared the notice itself:
According to B&B, Section 24A deals with disqualification for enrolment whereas Section 35 deals with punishment of advocates for misconduct. Under Section 35, if a disciplinary committee of the State Bar Council finds a lawyer guilty of professional misconduct, he may be reprimanded, suspended or removed from the rolls of the Bar Council.
Soon after the sentencing the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) had said Prashant Bhushan’ conviction for contempt was “inconsistent with international standards on freedom of expression and the role of lawyers.” The ICJ, an international NGO that defends human rights and the rule of law worldwide, stated that the conviction “has a chilling effect on the exercise of protected freedom of expression in India and thus, has urged a review of the laws and standards on criminal contempt as applied by the Indian courts.”
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