"I am pained, not because I may be punished, but because I have been grossly misunderstood," advocate Prashant Bhushan told the Supreme Court today.
Bhushan was speaking to the court while submitting that the arguments on quantum of sentence in the contempt proceedings in which he has been held guilty be heard by another top court bench.
The court subsequently rejected his submission. "You are asking us to commit an act of impropriety that arguments on sentencing should be heard by another bench," the court said.
Bhushan had been found guilty of criminal contempt on August 14 for tweeting against the judiciary. Bhushan told the court he intends to file a review plea against his conviction.
In the court today, Bhushan said he found it "hard to believe" that the court finds his tweet "has the effect of destabilizing the very foundation of this important pillar of Indian democracy".
He said: "I can only reiterate that these two tweets represented my bonafide beliefs, the expression of which must be permissible in any democracy. Indeed, public scrutiny is desirable for healthy functioning of judiciary itself...Failing to speak up would have been a dereliction of duty, especially for an officer of the court like myself."
Bhushan also said it would be "insincere and contemptuous" on his part to apologise for his tweets. "Therefore, I can only humbly paraphrase what the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi had said in his trial: I do not ask for mercy. I do not appeal to magnanimity. I am here, therefore, to cheerfully submit to any penalty that can lawfully be inflicted upon me for what the court has determined to be an offence, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen."
Here is Bhushan's statement in full.
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