Comedian Kunal Kamra has on Thursday filed a counter-affidavit before the Supreme Court, stating that his tweets were not published with the intention of insulting the Court but to draw its attention to and prompt an engagement with issues that he believes are relevant to the Indian democracy.
The affidavit stated, “My tweets were not published with the intention of diminishing the faith of the people in the highest court of our democracy. It is funny though, how little faith the Petitioner appears to have in the people of this country. The suggestion that my tweets could shake the foundations of the most powerful court in the world is an over-estimation of my abilities. Just as the Supreme Court values the faith the public places in it and seeks to protect it by the exercise of its criminal contempt jurisdiction in the judiciary is founded on the institution’s own actions, and not on any criticism or commentary about it.”
Kamra also said that public faith in the Judiciary cannot be shaken by any criticism or commentary but only by the Courts own actions and accord.
Kamra claimed that “Jokes need no defense; jokes are not reality; they are a comedian’s perception. Many people do not react to jokes, which do not make them laugh; they ignore them like our political leaders ignore their critics. That is where the life of a joke must end.”
He further alleged that there was an “assault on freedom of speech” in India. “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. At such a time I hope this Court will display that freedom of speech and expression is a cardinal principle,” stated Kamra.
Further, Kamra stated that no institution of power, not even Courts are beyond criticism in a democracy. “I believe that constitutional offices, including judicial offices, know no protection from jokes. I do not believe that any high authority, including judges, would find themselves unable to discharge their duties only on account of being the subject of satire or comedy,” he added.
Kamra went on to claim that if the Supreme Court felt he had crossed the line with his tweets, “then I will write Happy Independence Day postcards every August 15 just like my Kashmiri friends”.
Earlier on 18 December, an SC bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, and M.R. Shah had issued notice to Kamra over petitions seeking contempt of court proceedings against him for the tweets related to his criticism of the Supreme Court granting bail to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in abetment of suicide case, in November 2020.