The Bar Council of India (BCI ) has slammed activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan for his recent reported remarks against the judiciary in a webinar, saying no one has the authority to “ridicule” the Supreme Court and its judges and the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ should not be crossed by lawyers.
In a press statement, BCI chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra alleged that people like Bhushan “are misusing the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression” and indulging in anti-India tirade.
Bhushan, while speaking the webinar organised by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) on August 10, was critical of recent apex court decisions in cases like Zakia Jafri and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“The advocate while speaking in a webinar hosted by the Indian American Muslim Council has crossed all the limits.”
“He not only criticised and used filthy, demeaning words for our judges of the Supreme Court but exposed himself by uttering that, and by doing so, he intended to deter some of the judges of the Supreme Court,” Mishra, who is a senior advocate, said in the press statement.
The chief of the apex lawyers’ body said no one has the authority to ridicule the Supreme Court of India, its judges or the judiciary.
“You cannot make a mockery of the system, as the citizens of India more so, so long as you are an advocate, or else be ready to face the consequences. You can criticise anyone, but you cannot cross the Lakshman Rekha, always mind your language. The licence to practice does not empower you to misuse your position as a lawyer,” the statement said.
The BCI termed Bhushan’s statement “ridiculous”, “reprehensible” and a tirade against the nation.
“Persons like Mr. Bhushan have never been the champions of civil liberties, rather, by doing such nonsense acts, they succeed in giving a message to the world that they are anti-Indians. In fact, such people are misusing the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression. We cannot imagine the existence of such people like Prashant in countries like China and Russia,” it said.
The BCI was critical of Bhushan’s statement over the issue of post-retirement jobs for the judges saying under various statutes there are certain posts that could be assigned only to retired judges.
“Therefore, such appointments cannot be criticised in such an indecent manner. Bar Councils have also been raising these issues but in a respectful manner before appropriate forums. Maligning the image of our judges or the institution for these matters is quite improper and unjustified,” it said.
It said the Supreme Court may hesitate in initiating the contempt proceedings “because of one or other reason, but the Bar Council won’t tolerate such a nuisance”.
Referring to the reach and speed of social and digital media, the BCI chairperson said one should be very careful in making a statement as such messages go to the entire world quickly.
“For the conduct and etiquettes of lawyers, the BCI and state councils have laid down the norms and guidelines,” it said.