After legal luminaries, human rights defenders and civil society came out in droves to show support for senior advocate and activist Prashant Bhushan in wake of his conviction for contempt of court, several veteran politicians have now expressed solidarity with him.
In a statement released recently, politicians like Digvijay Singh (Congress), Sharad Yadav (Loktantrik Janata Dal), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), Shri Sitaram Yechury (CPM), Yashwant Sinha (Former Union Minister), D. Raja (CPI), Shashi Tharoor (Congress) and many others say, “While expressing unqualified commitment for upholding the dignity of all our Constitutional bodies including the Supreme Court of India, we are afraid that this decision may have a chilling effect on free speech and expression of dissent.”
The statement goes on to say, “Prashant Bhushan is a conscientious lawyer of three decades standing who has always upheld Constitutional and democratic norms. His critical comments in the tweets should have been seen in this light.” It further says, “It is sad that honourable Court has not found it necessary to distinguish between constructive criticism and malicious statement. We fail to find a legitimate basis for such a sweeping approach as it would deter ordinary individuals from performing their citizenship duty of being objective in their expressions about the institutions of our democratic republic.”
The politicians say, “It is our conviction that the cause of free speech needs to be protected and promoted as our young democracy needs plurality of perspectives and vigilance about all institutions to become more meaningful for all the men and women of India and we may move forward towards a just and fearless society on the basis of enlightened citizenship.”
Bhushan had been convicted for contempt of court for two tweets about the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of India. The quantum of sentence will be announced on August 20.