On 14 August, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the judge Arun Mishra, held the advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for two tweets he had posted in June with references to the incumbent and previous chief justices of India. The same bench will also hold a hearing on 17 August on whether Bhushan’s comments from eleven years earlier regarding corruption in the judiciary would amount to contempt of court. The case against Bhushan concerns a 2009 interview to the Tehelka magazine in which he said that half of the last sixteen or seventeen chief justices of India were corrupt.
In the following extract from “In Sua Causa”—the cover story of The Caravan’s July 2019 issue on the judiciary and the collegium system—Atul Dev, a staff writer at the publication, describes Bhushan as “a stubborn crusader for judicial probity.” Dev noted in it that after the retirement of the twenty-fifth CJI in October 1994, it became commonplace for CJIs to face corruption allegations.
WITH THE EXCEPTION OF RANGANATH MISRA, the twenty-first CJI, and KN Singh, the twenty-second, no judge to hold the country’s top judicial post had faced a corruption scandal before the institution of the collegium system, in 1993. Since the retirement of MN Venkatachaliah, the twenty-fifth CJI, in October 1994, such scandals have become commonplace.