Prashant Bhushan is an undeclared conscience keeper of the highest court: Odisha intellectuals

Yet another statement in support of Prashant Bhushan in connection with the contempt of court charges against him

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Activists, intellectuals and civil society members have come out in full force to support senior advocate and human rights defender Prashant Bhushan. In a statement of solidarity released recently, the Odisha activists say, “Mr. Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer of repute has been a champion of human and civil rights in the country. In the 30 years of his practice at the Supreme Court, he has pursued the cause of justice untiringly and fearlessly. Mr Bhushan has been working as an undeclared conscience keeper of the highest Court by bringing to its notice issues of immense importance such as forced lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir or the most recent Covid Mismanagement issues in the country, just to mention a few.”

The statement goes on to say, “The Supreme Court, in holding him in contempt of itself, has sent a clear message that the right to freedom of speech and expression of citizens cease when it deals with criticism of itself. The judgment has a chilling effect on free speech and would deter individuals from voicing their bonafide opinions against institutions.” 

The statement also says, “The Hon’ble Supreme Court has always held that it is not immune to criticism and the Court has broad shoulders to carry it. In fact, in the 70 years of its existence, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has adopted a magnanimously charitable attitude even when utterly uncharitable and unfair criticisms of its workings have been made out of bonafide concern for improvement. We strongly feel that the tweets were a bonafide expression of Mr. Bhushan to improve the administration of justice dispensation in the country and were made in larger interest of public. Thus, to quell such opinions with the mighty hand of law beckons a new chapter in the constitutional history of our nation where the judiciary is above and beyond all. This, to the minds of responsible and law-abiding citizens is extremely worrisome.”

The statement signed by the likes of  Prafulla Samantara (National Advisor,NAPM), Shivaji Pattanaik (Ex MP), Krishna Mohanty (President, Utkal Gandhi Smarak Nidhi), Narayan Reddy (Ex MLA), Rabi Das (Senior Journalist) and many others, says, “We express our deep disappointment with the verdict of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and stand in solidarity with Mr. Prashant Bhushan and the cause of free speech in the country.”

The intellectuals and activists then go on to “request all friends in Odisha to stand in solidarity with Prashant Bhushan on August 19, 2020 in groups by maintaining physical distance or even individually to communicate the message across the country that, we are duty bound to uphold freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”


SC: Prashant Bhushan held guilty for contempt of court [full judgement]
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