On Friday, the Supreme Court initiated contempt proceedings against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja for scandalizing the top court and the highest judiciary with their derogatory tweets.
A three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, and M.R. Shah issued a notice asking Kunal Kamra and Rachita Taneja to show cause as to why they should not be punished for contempt of court, however, exempted them from personal appearance.
The petitioners, mostly law students, and lawyers, had moved the apex court after getting a statutory consent for contempt action from Attorney General KK Venugopal.
Earlier on November 12, Attorney General KK Venugopal had granted permission to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Kamra based on complaints from various law students and lawyers who had drawn the attention of the law officer to four tweets by Kamra.
According to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, a private individual can file a contempt of court petition in the Supreme Court only after obtaining the consent of the Attorney General or the Solicitor General. Similar consent has to be obtained from the concerned Advocate General of the State when filing a contempt petition before a High Court.
The subject for the above observations by the Supreme Court include the following four tweets tweeted by Kamra on his official Twitter account:
- The Supreme Court of this country is the most Supreme joke of this country.
- 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.
- 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.
- All lawyers with a spine must stop the use of the prefix “Hon’ble” while referring to the Supreme Court or its judges. Honour has left the building long back.
Also, in lieu of the order passed by the Supreme Court granting bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief, Arnab Goswami, Kamra posted a morphed image of the Supreme Court building with an orange shade and depicting a BJP flag hoisted in the foyer of the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, cartoonist Taneja had also made cartoons involving the Supreme Court in the Arnab Goswami bail row.
Therefore, KK Venugopal had, in his consent letter, said the tweets carried the “gross insinuation” that the court had “ceased to be an impartial organ of the State”. He had also found Taneja’s cartoons, which she had tweeted as scandalous with an intent to undermine the judiciary.