Synopsis: The petition notes that the courts of law have the utmost respect for the people of India. Such an act of publishing of tweets by the alleged contemnor will not be accepted by any law abiding citizen of this nation.
A plea filed before the Supreme Court by a group of lawyers and law students seeking contempt of court proceedings against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, received the consent of Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal.
In their plea before the Apex court, law students Shrirang Katneshwarkar, Nitika Duhan, and Advocates Amey Abhay Sirsikar, Abhishek Sharan Raskar and Sattyendra Vinayak Muley state that even the AG considers Kamra’s tweets “extremely objectionable”.
Under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, only after obtaining the approval of the Attorney General or the Solicitor General, a private citizen can file a contempt of court petition before the Supreme Court. Similar approval must be sought from the Attorney General of the State in question while filing a petition for contempt before the High Court.
The petition drawn up and filed by advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar claims that Kamra has 1.7 million Twitter followers and that his followers saw his “scandalous tweets and many of them retweeted the same.”
The scandalous tweets posted by the alleged contemnor were viewed by all the petitioners and the first thought that came into their minds was to file a criminal contempt against the alleged contemnor.
Furthermore, the plea notes that the tweets were in such a “bad taste” that even an ordinary man might claim that Kamra’s tweets were contempt of court.
The petition notes that the court of law have the utmost respect for the people of India. Such an act of publishing of tweets by the alleged contemnor will not be accepted by any law abiding citizen of this nation.
It has also been submitted that when a social media user pointed out to Kamra that the tweets may be in contempt, Kamra was “rude, dismissive and unapologetic.”
On tendering apology, the Supreme Court had let off the contemnors in the past by exhibiting magnanimity and grace. But the action of the alleged contemnor is so harsh that even in case of tendering apology, the alleged contemnor does not merit any mercy from the hands of the Apex Court.
On Thursday, Attorney General KK Venugopal had given his consent to initiate criminal contempt of court proceedings against Kamra.
In his letter of consent, Venugopal mentioned that the tweets are “extremely offensive” and “constitute criminal contempt of court” in his opinion.
The AG maintained that Kamra’s tweets were not only in poor taste, but clearly crossed the line between laughter and contempt.
The background of Kamra’s tweets was with regard to the order of the Supreme Court passed by a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud on Wednesday granting bail to the Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV, Arnab Goswami.
The four Kamra tweets that prompted a flurry of AG requests for contempt against him were as follows:
• Supreme Court is the country’s supreme joke.
• It is time that we substitute the photo of Mahatma Gandhi with the photo of Harish Salve for the speed at which the Supreme Court works in matters of “National Interests.”
• After being quickly tracked, DY Chandrachud is a flight attendant serving champagne to first-class passengers, while commoners do not know whether they would ever board or be seated, or let alone served.
• While referring to the Supreme Court or its judges, all lawyers with a spine must avoid the use of the prefix ‘Hon’ble’. Honour has long back left the building.
Kamra also posted a morphed image of the Supreme Court building and gave it an orange shade and depicted a BJP flag hoisted in the Supreme Court flyer.
On the morphed picture, AG stated that it was to indicate that the country did not have an independent top court but rather existed with Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
The AG siad that the picture of the saffron-colored building of the Supreme Court with the BJP flag is a gross insinuation against the entirety of the Supreme Court of India that the Apex Court is not an autonomous and impartial institution and so are its judges, but on the other hand is a ruling party court, the BJP that operates for the benefit of the BJP. In his view, all of this constitutes criminal contempt of court.
Furthermore, the AG added that freedom of expression is subject to contempt of court and it was high time that individuals realise not to “unjustifiably and brazenly” criticise the court.
“Under the constitution, freedom of expression is subject to the law of contempt and I believe that it is time that people understand that assaulting the Supreme Court of India unjustifiedly and brazenly would attract punishment under Contempt of Courts Act, 1972,” AG’s letter said.
In the meantime, Kamra declined to apologise for his tweets criticising the Supreme Court, reiterating that the Supreme Court’s silence on matters of personal rights of others cannot go uncriticized.
In response to Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal granting consent to begin contempt proceedings against Kamra, Kamra released a tweet statement to that effect on Friday, after at least ten individuals had written to the AG flagging Kamra’s tweets.