Public’s faith in judiciary is founded on its own actions, not criticism: Kunal Kamra to SC

The comedian responded to the contempt notice, and has refused to apologise for his tweets


“Should powerful people and institutions continue to show an inability to tolerate rebuke or criticism, we would be reduced to a country of incarcerated artists and flourishing lapdogs. If this Court believes I have crossed a line and wants to shut down my internet indefinitely, then I too will write Happy Independence Day post cards every 15th August just like my Kashmiri friends”, reads Kunal Kamra’s affidavit in response to the contempt notice issued to him on December 18, 2020.

The comedian, who is facing contempt charges for his allegedly contemptuous and scandalous tweets against the judiciary and the Supreme Court of India, has refused to apologise for the same. He said that his tweets were not aimed to diminish people’s faith in the judiciary and that there is no defence for jokes and should not be treated as reality.

LiveLaw reported that his affidavit further stated, “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) it should also trust the public not to form its own opinions of the court on the basis of few jokes on Twitter. The public’s faith in the judiciary is founded on the institution’s own actions, and not on any criticism or commentary about it.”  

His affidavit further draws an analogy, mentioning, “To believe any institution of power in a democracy is beyond criticism is like saying migrants need to find their way back home during an ill planned nationwide lockdown; it is irrational and undemocratic.” His affidavit also talks about the growing culture of intolerance in the country “where taking offense is seen as a fundamental right and has been elevated to the status of a much-loved national indoor sport.”

In this regard, Kamra referred to the case of comedian Munawar Faruqui and said, “We are witnessing an assault on freedom of speech and expression with comedians like Munawar 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.”

Kamra has also said that he will respect the verdict given by the Supreme Court in the criminal contempt case against him. “Lastly, I may disagree with many decisions by many courts in many matters, but I promise this Bench that I will respect any decision that comes my way with a broad smile. I will not vilify this Bench or the Supreme Court in this matter specifically because that would actually be contempt of court”, states his affidavit.

The matter has now been adjourned for two weeks for the petitioners to file their reply to Kunal Kamra’s affidavit.  

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah also heard cartoonist Rachita Taneja’s response to the contempt notice issued to her for her post on social media against the Supreme Court. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi pointed out that “A criticism of the court is not contempt. The foundation of the Court is much stronger.”

LiveLaw reported that Justice Ashok Bhushan remarked, “We agree. But these days things are going a bit too far with everyone doing…..”. Thereafter, the court adjourned her matter for three weeks.


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