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Freedom of speech not absolute for anyone: SC in Bhushan contempt case

New Delhi,  The Supreme Court on Thursday said freedom of speech is not absolute for anyone and told advocate Prashant Bhushan that the court has found him guilty of contempt.

The remarks were made during the hearing on sentencing of Bhushan, who was found guilty of contempt of court for his tweets making derogatory remarks against the judiciary. Later, Twitter disabled these tweets.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra observed that the court is impressed with the list given by Bhushan citing his fight against corruption, and this will weigh in his favour. Justice Mishra added that freedom of speech was framed by the makers of the Constitution with certain riders, and it is not absolute.

The bench asked Bhushan to reconsider his statement and said it is inclined to give him time, as it doesn’t want him to allege in future that he was never given time to reflect upon his statement. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal contended before the top court that the court may give him some time, and “knowing him for so many years, I could say that he has done some tremendous good work”.

Bhushan contended before the bench that his statement was well considered and thought out, and he can consult his lawyers, but there would not be substantial changes in it. Justice Mishra replied, “if you think your statement is alright then we will go ahead, but if you want to modify it, then the court could give two or three days for you to think over it.”

Bhushan in a statement said, “I have gone through the judgment of this court. I am pained that I have been held guilty of committing contempt of the court whose majesty I have tried to uphold — not as a courtier or cheerleader but as a humble guard — for over three decades, at some personal and professional cost. I am pained, not because I may be punished, but because I have been grossly misunderstood.”

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