The Supreme Court on Friday decided to initiate proceedings of criminal contempt against stand up comic Kunal Kamra and illustrator Rachita Taneja of illustration strip Sanitary Panels fame. The three judge bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notice to both artistes and sought their reply in six weeks. Senior advocate PS Narasimha, representing a law student, on Thursday had argued that Taneja's tweets were "intended only to malign and scandalize" the top court.
The Attorney General K K Venugopal on November 12 and December 9 gave consent for the initiation of contempt proceedings against Kamra and Taneja respectively.
The AG's office received at least 10 letters seeking permission to initiate contempt proceedings against Kamra.
The AG has given his consent twice. In the first consent letter, Venugopal observed that a series of tweets Kamra published criticizing the judiciary and Justice DY Chandrachud, in particular, had crossed a line between humour and contempt.
Granting his consent in the second request for contempt proceedings, Venugopal had said that Kamra's tweet—directed toward Chief Justice of India SA Bobde—was not only aimed at "deliberately" insulting the CJI but it also undermined the litigants' faith in the top court.
When Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court bench led by Justice Chandrachud, Kamra published one of the first tweets where he called the Supreme Court of the country as the "most supreme joke" of this country. Three other tweets posted by Kamra were also found to be offensive. In the second instance, less than a fortnight later, Kamra on November 18 tweeted a picture with the caption: "One of these 2 fingers is for CJI Arvind Bobde… ok let me not confuse you it's the middle one."
Tweet calculated to undermine public confidence in SC independence and impartiality: AG
In his consent letter to Kashyap, Venugopal said he was satisfied that the illustrations—three in all—published by Taneja criticizing the judiciary "is in contempt of the Supreme Court of India".
"The tweet is clearly calculated to undermine the public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the Supreme Court of India," the AG had said.
Aditya Kashyap, a final year law student, had contended in his plea that the three "alleged posts in the form of cartoons/caricatures have shaken the public trust and confidence in the judicial system of our constitutional democracy by directly attacking and making insinuations" against the SC.
In one of the illustrations, Taneja had referred to the top court as the "Sanghi Court of India". In another, she illustrated Goswami as telling the SC that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was his father and the last illustration portrayed then CJI Ranjan Gogoi as having made a deal for a Rajya Sabha seat—he is now an MP from Assam—in return for a favourable verdict for the BJP in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute case.
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