SC issues notices to Kamra, cartoonist over tweets about judiciary
On Friday, the Supreme Court decided that the contempt petitions filed against comedian Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja shouldn't be junked; it instead served notices to both of them. They were exempted from appearing in person but were directed to respond to the notices within six weeks. Eight people have filed cases against them. Here are more details.
Before approaching SC with a contempt plea, an aggrieved private individual must have the consent of either the Attorney General or Solicitor General. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, also underlines that when a contempt plea is filed in High Court, the petitioner has to take permission from the Advocate General of the concerned state. This case proceeded after petitioners had requisite permission.
Last month, after Republic TV's boss Arnab Goswami was granted bail in a 2018 abetment to suicide case, Kamra slammed SC. He referred to the SC as "Supreme Joke of India." "All lawyers with a spine must stop the use of the prefix 'Honorable' while referring to the Supreme Court or its judges. Honor has left the building long back," he had tweeted.
Another tweet that landed him in trouble read, "DY Chandrachud is a flight attendant serving champagne to first-class passengers after they're fast-tracked through, while commoners don't know if they'll ever be boarded or seated, let alone served. (sic)" "The pace at which the Supreme Court operates in matters of 'National Interests' it's time we replace Mahatma Gandhi's photo with Harish Salve's photo, (sic)" read another.
Claiming that Kamra's tweets disrespected the judiciary, AG KK Venugopal was approached by a law student and the former gave the nod. Venugopal said the four tweets were "not only in bad taste but clearly cross the line between humor and contempt of the court." Thereafter, another letter was addressed to the government's top lawyer when Kamra targeted CJI SA Bobde directly.
Venugopal gave a similar consent for proceedings against Taneja, who runs the Twitter handle "Sanitarypanels." She had also mocked Goswami's bail, implying that the journalist enjoyed unhindered support of SC. The petitioner, also a law student, said she "threatened the very existence of the Supreme Court." Giving consent, Venugopal claimed Taneja accused the top court of being biased toward the ruling party.
Today, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah, asked both the accused to explain why contempt proceedings must not be initiated against them for "scandalizing the judiciary." To note, Kamra had refused to apologize after the controversy erupted. "I don't intend to retract my tweets or apologize for them. I believe they speak for themselves," he had said.