A Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah have reserved their verdicts on whether to issue notices to cartoonist Rachita Taneja and comedian Kunal Kamra on two separate petitions seeking criminal contempt action for their tweets made about the top court and judges, reported LiveLaw.
The petitioner, a law student, received the Attorney General KK Venugopal’s assent to initiate proceedings against the comic illustrator Taneja and was represented by Senior Advocate PS Narsimha. He stated that the tweets by Taneja were intended only to malign and scandalise the Supreme Court of India.
“This country has always permitted any kind of a fair and proper discussion, even if it is to the extent of being discourteous to the Judges. Doesn’t really matter, as long as there is a dialogue where one can impugn the judgment of the court to be incorrectly decided, but your lordships will in fact welcome it. In none of these tweets you will find an iota of a discussion about the merits or demerits of the decision taken by your lordships. They are intended only to malign and scandalise the Supreme Court of India”, he said.
The plea filed by a 5th year law student Aditya Kashyap through Advocate Namit Saxena said, “The three alleged posts in the form of cartoons/ caricatures have shaken the public trust and confidence in the judicial system of our constitutional democracy by directly attacking and making insinuations against the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.”
Reliance was also placed on the Prashant Bhushan contempt order where it was held that “Indian judiciary is considered by the citizens in the country with the highest esteem. The judiciary is considered as a last hope when a citizen fails to get justice anywhere. The Supreme Court is the epitome of the Indian judiciary. An attack on the Supreme Court does not only have the effect of tending an ordinary litigant of losing the confidence in the Supreme Court but also may tend to lose the confidence in the mind of other judges in the country in its highest court.”
Taneja’s tweets were in light of the Supreme Court granting bail to Arnab Goswami whereas some human right activists, journalists still continue to languish in jails. In one of her comic strips, she also called the Supreme Court the “Sanghi Court of India”.
— Sanitary Panels (@sanitarypanels) November 12, 2020
Arnab gets bail, real journalists get jail, independent judiciary is fail. pic.twitter.com/GQbzyeHYGk
— Sanitary Panels (@sanitarypanels) November 11, 2020
Petitions against Kunal Kamra were filed by Abhyuday Mishra, Skand Bajpai and Srirang Katneshwar and Advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar, appearing in one of the petitions, referred to Kamra’s tweet “who am I to scandalize the already scandalized” and “this is a contempt of joke” before the Bench, reported LiveLaw.
The plea submitted that in another tweet, he published an image replacing the flag of tricolour hoisted above Supreme Court with the flag of the ruling party and made the colour of the court building saffron. Kamra also commented that the ‘Supreme Court of the country is the Supreme Joke of the country’.
Contempt of court it seems ??? pic.twitter.com/QOJ7fE11Fy
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) November 11, 2020
The Attorney General reacted strongly to Kunal Kamra’s online activities and said, “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.”
But on November 13, Kamra refused to retract his tweets or apologize for them.
No lawyers, No apology, No fine, No waste of space ??? pic.twitter.com/B1U7dkVB1W
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) November 13, 2020
Both the orders are now expected to be pronounced tomorrow.