'I am cool', says lawyer in courtroom exchange during Prashant Bhushan case hearing

Agencies New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 08, 2019, 03.42 PM(IST)

File photo: The Supreme Court of India. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The case was being heard by a bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha.

The hearing in the Supreme Court during lawyer Prashant Bhushan's application seeking recusal of Justice Arun Mishra from adjudicating contempt plea filed against him by the Attorney General saw some heated arguments on Thursday.

The case was being heard by a bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha. Senior lawyer Dushyant Dave, appearing for Prashant Bhushan, referred to some earlier orders passed by Justice Mishra, including the one in which the apex court had made observations about lawyers going to the media on sub-judice cases, and said this has given rise to an apprehension in Bhushan's mind.

"Judges think independently. It is a matter of common knowledge that in some matters, some judges may have strict views while other judges will have different views. This is the beauty of this institution," Justice Sinha observed.

Dave said apprehension has to be seen from the mind of litigants and not from the mind of judges. "Please hear our application (seeking recusal). There are reasons in it."

To this, the bench told Dave, "Sorry, we are not with you. We should not express any opinion on this kind of application. If you want, we can pass reasoned order and then it will reflect many things. We are telling you."

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, which has also filed a separate contempt plea against Bhushan, referred to earlier orders passed by the apex court and said seeking recusal of judges has become a "pattern".

He said earlier also attempts were made to have two out of three judges recuse from hearing the pleas seeking probe into the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for some social activists who have sought to intervene in the case, said Mehta has no locus to argue in the matter as the Centre's contempt plea against Bhushan was not maintainable.

"He (Mehta) appears in court, stands up and argues without being a party in the case," Dhavan said.

"Mr Dhavan, please maintain cool," the bench said. To this, the senior lawyer replied, "I am cool, My Lord. My biggest advantage is, I don't have blood pressure."

"Please check your blood pressure anyway", Justice Mishra commented.

During the hearing, Bhushan admitted in the court that he had made a "genuine mistake" by tweeting that the government had perhaps submitted in the apex court fabricated documents of the high-powered selection panel on appointment of interim CBI director.

Advocate Dave expressed the inclination on behalf of his client to withdraw an application seeking recusal of Justice Arun Mishra from hearing the contempt plea filed by Attorney General K K Venugopal against the activist lawyer.

When the bench said the application be withdrawn with an unconditional apology, Dave said he will tender the same on behalf of Bhushan.

However, when the bench sought Bhushan's own view, he said he was not inclined to tender an unconditional apology as the application filed by him was bona fide.

Taking note of his statement, the bench said in its order, "We make it clear that there is no reason for recusal and we will deal with it." The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on April 3.