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The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted lawyers time to formulate the key questions involved in contempt cases with respect to procedures and situations that lead to judicial corruption allegations as it postponed the hearing in a 2009 case against lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

On 10 September, the apex court had sought the help of Attorney General K.K. Venugopal as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in this case, which arises from Bhushan’s allegations over judicial corruption.

During the course of the hearing on Tuesday, Venugopal raised concerns regarding media trials on pending matters. He said the print and electronic media often comment on cases that are sub-judice in an attempt to influence the judge and public perception.

“When I watch TV, I see comments about bail applications based on statements stated to be made to police... the news flash the conversation of the accused persons. All this can be very damaging to the accused," he said.

Bhushan’s counsel Rajeev Dhavan argued that the issue of comments on pending matters should not be clubbed with the present case. As this case is related to the larger question involved with respect to the contempt jurisdiction, and clubbing the issues would further complicate the case.

Venugopal assured the court that he will hold discussions with Dhavan and senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing journalist Tarun Tejpal, another accused in this case, and that they will formulate the questions to be argued.

The SC bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, and comprising justices B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari adjourned the case till the first week of November.

On 18 August, an SC bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had referred this case to a larger bench and sought answers to two questions. The first: “In case you have any grievance against any judge, what should be the process? In what circumstances can such allegations be made?" The second: “When some matter is sub-judice, to what extent can the matter be argued through media or another mode?"

On 10 August, the SC had passed an order refusing to accept Bhushan’s “regret" and explanation for his statement against former chief justices of India S.H. Kapadia and K.G. Balakrishnan and ordered that the court examine whether the statement prima facie amounts to contempt.

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