Indian Supreme Court to Lawyer: Apologize or Go to Jail Over Tweets

The Supreme Court in India, the world’s largest democracy, says either a prominent lawyer apologizes for two tweets critical of the court or goes to jail.Although the court wants Prashant Bhushan to apologize, the lawyer says he would rather face the sentence of six months. Bhushan, who was found to be in contempt, was given a deadline of Monday, August 24, to apologize. He has said an apology would be “insincere.”In one tweet, Bhushan shared a photograph of Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde on an expensive Harley Davidson motorcycle without a face mask even though people were around him. Bhushan said it was hypocritical of the chief justice to be in a crowd without a mask when the justice had ordered the court to shut down during the coronavirus outbreak, denying Indians of their “fundamental right to access justice.” According to The New York Times, the motorcycle belonged to one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political allies.  The court described the tweet as “patently false” and had the tendency to shake public confidence.Bhushan accused the court in his other tweet of being instrumental in “how democracy has been destroyed in India” during Modi’s administration.Earlier this month, the court ruled that Bhushan’s brief tweets were a “calculated attack on the very foundation of the institution of the judiciary” and found him in contempt of court in a 108-page judgment.Twitter has since removed the posts, but not before activists had taken screen shots and distributed them.   Twitter’s removal of Bhushan’s tweets sets a dangerous precedence for similar cases, lawyers say. 

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