SC holds Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt for tweets against judiciary

News Network
August 14, 2020

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New Delhi, Aug 14: The Supreme Court on Friday held activist-lawyer PrashantBhushan guilty of contempt for his two derogatory tweets against the judiciary.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said it would hear on August 20 the arguments on quantum of sentence to be awarded to Bhushan in the matter.

The apex court had on August 5 reserved its verdict in the matter after Bhushan had defended his two tweets, saying they were against the judges regarding their conduct in their personal capacity and they did not obstruct administration of justice.

On July 22, the top court had issued a show cause notice to Bhushan after initiating the criminal contempt against him after taking note of a petition.

While reserving the order in the contempt case, the top court had dismissed a separate petition filed by Bhushan seeking recall of the July 22 order by which the notice was issued against him in a contempt proceeding initiated for his alleged contemptuous tweets against the judiciary.

The top court had not agreed to the contention of senior advocate Dushayant Dave, representing Bhushan, that the separate plea had raised objection against the manner in which the contempt proceedings were started without the opinion of Attorney General K K Venugopal and it be sent to another bench.

Bhushan had sought a direction to declare that the apex court's secretary general has allegedly "acted unconstitutionally and illegally" in accepting a "defective contempt petition" filed against him, which was initially placed on the administrative side and later on the judicial side.

Referring to a judgement, the apex court had said that it has “meticulously” followed the law in entertaining the contempt plea and it did not agree to the submission that it be sent to another bench for hearing.

Dave arguing for Bhushan in the contempt case had said, “The two tweets were not against the institution.

"They are against the judges in their personal capacity regarding their conduct. They are not malicious and do not obstruct administration of justice”.

Bhushan has made immense contribution to the development of jurisprudence and there are “at least 50 judgments to his credit”, he had said, adding that the court has appreciated his contributions in cases like 2G scam, coal block allocation and in mining matters.

“Perhaps you would have given him ‘Padma Vibhushan' for the work he did in the last 30 years,” Dave had said, adding that this was not the case where contempt proceedings would have been initiated.

Referring to the ADM Jabalpur case on suspension of fundamental rights during the emergency, the senior advocate had said that even “extremely uncharitable” remarks against the judges were made and no contempt proceedings were made out.

In a 142-page reply affidavit, Bhushan stood by his two tweets and had said the expression of opinion, “however outspoken, disagreeable or unpalatable to some”, cannot constitute contempt of court.

Bhushan, in the affidavit, has referred to several apex court judgements, speeches of former and serving judges on contempt of court and the “stifling of dissent” in a democracy and his views on judicial actions in some cases.

“The respondent (Bhushan) states that the expression of his opinion however outspoken, disagreeable or however unpalatable to some, cannot constitute contempt of court. This proposition has been laid down by several judgments of the Supreme Court and in foreign jurisdictions such as Britain, USA and Canada,” he has submitted.

Preventing citizens from demanding accountability and reforms and advocating for the same by generating public opinion is not a ''reasonable restriction'', the affidavit had said, adding that the Article 129 cannot be pressed into service to stifle bonafide criticism.

While referring to the tweets by Bhushan, the apex court had said these statements are prima facie capable of "undermining the dignity and authority" of the institution of the Supreme Court in general and the office of Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of the public at large.

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News Network
September 16,2020

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Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip have traded strikes with the Israeli military as the signing of contentious normalization treaties between Tel Aviv and two Arab regimes provokes another flare-up in the blockaded territory.

Palestinian Arabic-language Ma’an news agency, citing local sources, reported that Israeli fighter jets and helicopters bombed a training base run by the Hamas resistance movement northwest of Beit Lahiya town early on Wednesday.

Eyewitnesses confirmed that huge explosions were heard in the northern Gaza Strip before the site caught fire.

The sources noted that Israeli warplanes carried out four air raids against the site, while three others were launched by choppers.

Later, Israeli jets targeted another Hamas-run site in an area located between Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip and Khan Yunis in the southern sector of the Palestinian enclave.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in either attack.

The raids came shortly after Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into the Israeli-occupied territories.

Reacting to the news of the fresh flareup, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the overnight rocket fire was meant to undermine Israel's deals with Arab states.

"They want to prevent peace, they won't. We will hit everyone who tries to harm us, and we will extend a hand of peace to all who reach out to us to make peace," Netanyahu said in a statement

‘A message of resistance’

Following the Israeli warplanes’ latest bombardment of the enclave, Hamas issued a warning to the Tel Aviv regime.

"The occupation (Israel) will pay the price for any aggression against our people or resistance sites and the response will be direct," said the resistance group in a statement.

"We will increase and expand our response to the extent that the occupation persists in its aggression," Hamas added on Wednesday.

The Palestinian rockets triggered sirens in the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, potentially sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters just as Netanyahu was signing agreements at the White House with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Two people were reportedly injured and several more treated for shock after a rocket slammed into a street in Ashdod, according to Israeli media.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, view the US-brokered deals as a betrayal of their cause.

Mohammad al-Hindi, a senior official with the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad resistance movement, said “the Gaza rockets are a message that this great vanity of the United States and Israel will be shattered by the Palestinians and that the final word is for those in the right.”

Hamas also said in a statement that the Palestinian nation “insists on continuing its struggle until it secures the return of all of its rights.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also protested the normalization deals with Israel, stating they will not foster peace in the Middle East as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian nation to establish an independent and sovereign state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since June 2007, after Hamas, which has vowed to resist Israeli occupation, won the elections and rose to power in the enclave.

Since imposing the siege, Israel has also waged three wholesale wars against Gaza, killing and wounding thousands of Palestinians in each.

The crippling blockade has caused a sharp decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty in the strip.

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News Network
September 26,2020

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London, Sept 26: Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani has told a UK court that suggestions of his lavish tastes are speculative because his lifestyle is "very disciplined" as he gave evidence in a dispute involving a loan agreement with three Chinese banks.

The 61-year-old former billionaire appeared via videolink from Mumbai before the High Court on Friday for compulsory cross-examination in aid of an asset disclosure order obtained by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd Mumbai Branch, China Development Bank and Exim Bank of China.

The order required Ambani to give full disclosure of all of his assets worldwide exceeding USD 100,000. "My needs are not vast and my lifestyle is very disciplined," Ambani told the London court.

Asked about his fleet of luxury cars and other references to his lavish lifestyle as the counsel for the banks cross-examined him, the Reliance Communications chief dismissed them as "speculative" media stories.

He also said that he has sold his gold jewellery to pay his legal fees and drives just one car. He further said that he had received Rs 9.9 crore for all his jewellery between January and June 2020 and now does not own anything meaningful.

"Mr Anil Ambani has always been a simple man of simple tastes, contrary to exaggerated perceptions of his flamboyance and lavish lifestyle," said a spokesperson for Anil Ambani.

"He is devoted to his family and company, an avid marathon runner, and deeply spiritual. He is also a lifelong vegetarian, teetotaller and non-smoker who would much rather watch a movie at home with his kids than go out on the town. Reports that suggest otherwise are completely misleading," the spokesperson said.

The dispute revolves around an alleged breach of a personal guarantee on a company debt refinancing loan of around USD 925 million dating back to February 2012.

Ambani denies providing authority for any such guarantee, resulting in the High Court action in the UK – the jurisdiction agreed upon as part of the terms of the loan agreement.

In May, the Commercial Division of the High Court of England and Wales in London had ruled that the personal guarantee was binding on Ambani and directed him to pay early USD 717 million to the three Chinese banks.

"The banks will use the information from the cross-examination to pursue all available legal avenues to protect their rights and recover the outstanding loans owed to them,” the banks said in a statement this week.

At a hearing in the case earlier in the year, a UK judge had ruled that he did not accept Ambani's defence that his net worth was nearly zero or that his family would not step in to assist him when "push came to shove".

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News Network
September 14,2020

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Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria, a BJP MP from Rajasthan, who had claimed that his mud bath ritual and blowing a conch could increase immunity against Covid19, has now tested positive for the coronavirus.

In the past couple of months, the human ears were subjected to many bizarre treatments which supposedly help in preventing one from contracting COVID-19. From consuming cow urine to eating a particular brand of papads, more recently, blowing a conch shell and taking a mud bath -- the list goes on.

 "You will not gain immunity from eating medicines. You will gain immunity naturally. Go out, get wet in the rain, sit in the dirt, work on the farm, blow a conch... and eat 'desi' things. One gains immunity from doing these things," the leader had said in a video posted on his official Facebook page.

He emphasised that immunity can be built through natural means and going outside, and with this, one can prevent themselves from contracting the virus.

Jaunapuria is an MP from Tonk–Sawai Madhopur constituency. He joins Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, who had tested positive days after claiming that Bhabhi Ji papad is an immunity booster against COVID-19.

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