Kunal Kamra refuses to apologize for his jokes on SC
Comedian Kunal Kamra, who was issued a notice over controversial tweets by the Supreme Court, has refused to tender an apology. In an affidavit filed on Friday, Kamra said the suggestion that his posts have the power to jolt the world's most powerful court "is an overestimation of my abilities." SC adjourned the matter for two weeks to let the petitioner respond to Kamra.
Background: By mocking SC, Kamra courted controversy
Kamra, known to be a staunch critic of the current federal government, courted controversy in November when he referred to the top court as "Supreme Joke of India" after Republic TV boss Arnab Goswami was granted bail in a 2018 abetment to suicide case. Later, a law student approached Attorney General KK Venugopal, saying his tweets denigrated the top court.
Venugopal concluded that jokes were in bad taste
Venugopal gave his consent for initiating contempt proceedings while noting that the contentious four tweets were "not only in bad taste but clearly cross the line between humor and contempt of the court." On December 18, the apex court issued notices to Kamra as well as cartoonist Rachita Taneja. She runs the Twitter handle "Sanitarypanels" and had also poked fun at Goswami's bail.
SC should trust public opinion won't be framed by jokes
Now, in its affidavit, Kamra said that just like the top court holds in high regard the faith public has in it, "it should also trust the public not to form its opinions of the Court on the basis of a few jokes on Twitter." "Public's faith in judiciary is founded on the institution's own actions and not on any criticism or commentary about it (sic)," he added.
Institutions in democracy are prone to criticism, he explained
He added that to think that any institution in a democracy can't be criticized is "like saying migrants need to find their way back home during an ill-planned nationwide lockdown; it is irrational and undemocratic." Kamra explained that jokes are meant to make people laugh and those who don't laugh, sometimes don't react, for example, politicians who don't pay attention to their critics.
'India would be reduced to a country of incarcerated artists'
In the affidavit, which is replete with satire, Kamra also said, "If powerful authorities like the apex court continue to intolerate rebuke or criticism, then India would be reduced to a country of incarcerated artists and flourishing lapdogs (sic)."
'We are witnessing an assault on freedom of speech'
Kamra also asserted that a culture where taking offense is seen as a fundamental right is increasing. "We are witnessing an assault on freedom of speech and expression with comedians like Munnawar Faruqui jailed for jokes they have not made and school students being interrogated for sedition," he wrote. Just yesterday, the Madhya Pradesh High Court denied Faruqui's request for bail, again.
Kamra assured he will respect the court's decision
He added that should SC feel he crossed a line and shut his internet, he would pen Happy Independence Day postcards every "August 15 just like my Kashmiri friends." Saying that he disagrees with numerous verdicts, Kamra assured he will respect any decision "and will not vilify this bench or the Supreme Court in this matter because that would actually (amount to) contempt of court."