Attorney General K K Venugopal granted his consent Thursday for initiation of criminal contempt of court proceedings against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra over his “highly objectionable” tweets on the Supreme Court and a judge.
Venugopal said the tweets “are not only in bad taste but clearly cross the line between humour and contempt of the court”. Kamra posted the tweets Wednesday, the day a vacation bench of the Supreme Court granted interim bail to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in an alleged abetment to suicide case.
The Attorney General’s office, it is learned, received multiple letters of request, seeking his nod for criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra over the tweets.
Those who wrote to the AG included Shrirang Katneshwarkar, a law student from Aurangabad; Rizwan Siddiquee, an advocate; and two Pune-based lawyers, Amey Abhay Sirsikar and Abhishek Sharad Raskar.
“I have gone through each one of the tweets which you have annexed for consent to proceed by way of criminal contempt against Sh. Kunal Kamra. The tweets which I am extracting below are not only in bad taste but clearly cross the line between humour and contempt of the court,” the AG said in his reply to letters seeking his consent.
“I find that today people believe that they can boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court of India and its judges by exercising what they believe is their freedom of speech. But under the Constitution, the freedom of speech is subject to the law of contempt and I believe that it is time that people understand that attacking the Supreme Court of India unjustifiedly and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972,” Venugopal wrote.
His letter referred to two of Kamra’s tweets posted Wednesday: “Honour has left the building (Supreme Court) long back” and “The Supreme Court of this Country is the most Supreme joke of this Country”.
Venugopal wrote that Kamra had also posted “a picture of the Supreme Court building dressed in saffron colours with a flag of the ruling political party, namely the BJP having replaced the Tricolour”.
“This is a gross insinuation against the entirety of the Supreme Court of India that the Supreme Court of India is not an independent and impartial institution and so too its judges, but on the other hand is a Court of the ruling party, the BJP, existing only for the BJP’s benefit. All this in my opinion constitutes criminal contempt of court,” his letter stated.
Those who wrote to the AG sought to draw his attention to four tweets by Kamra including one naming Justice D Y Chandrachud. The bench of Justices Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee had on Wednesday granted interim bail to Goswami.
On the other two tweets, Venugopal said, they “also are highly objectionable, and it would perhaps be for the Court to decide the question as to whether these tweets also would constitute criminal contempt of the Supreme Court of India”.
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