The Supreme Court on Friday decided to proceed with the criminal contempt of court case against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja for their Tweets criticising the top court.
The top court issued notice to both Kamra and Taneja but dispensed with their personal appearance.
The order was delivered by a three-judge Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah on a slew of contempt of court petitions filed against Kamra and Taneja.
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 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 following were the four tweets for which the AG had granted consent:
1. The Supreme Court of this country is the most Supreme joke of this country...
2 .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...
3. 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.
4. 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...
Kamra also 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.
The background of those tweets was an order passed by the Supreme Court granting bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief, Arnab Goswami.
The Attorney General maintained that the four tweets by Kamra were "not only in bad taste but clearly cross the line between humor and contempt of the court."
Thereafter, a fresh letter was addressed to AG seeking action against Kamra was based on another tweet in which the comedian was seen holding up his fingers while in an aircraft with the text:
"One of these 2 fingers is for CJI Arvind Bobde...ok let me not confuse you it’s the middle one."
The complainant, Anuj Singh, an advocate at the Allahabad High Court claimed that the tweet had gone viral and brought disrepute to the institution of the judiciary.
While granting consent to Singh, AG Venugopal noted that the tweet against the CJI was "grossly obnoxious" and would "equally be an insult to the Supreme Court of India."
"The said tweet is grossly vulgar and obnoxious and I have no doubt that it would tend to lower the authority of the Supreme Court of India as well as undermine the confidence that the litigant public has on the institution itself", the AG said in his letter granting consent.
Similar consent was granted by AG in a plea against Taneja by a law student, Aditya Kashyap. Kashyap, in his petition, stated that tweets by Taneja on her twitter profile, Sanitarypanels has "threatened the very existence of the Supreme Court."