India’s Attorney General KK Venugopal on Thursday gave his nod to multiple requests seeking consent to file contempt of court proceedings against comedian Kunal Kamra for his tweets about the Supreme Court. According to Venugopal, the tweets are “highly objectionable”, in bad taste, and “clearly cross the line” between humour and contempt.
In multiple tweets posted on Tuesday, Kamra called the apex court a “supreme joke” and said that “honour” had left the Supreme Court building. He also poked fun at Justice DY Chandrachud, who headed a bench of apex court that granted bail to Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami. While granting bail, Justice Chandrachud had declared that Goswami faced injustice and keeping him jailed would be a “travesty of justice”.
According to Venugopal, one of the tweets “insinuates” that the Supreme Court is not an independent or impartial institution, but is a court of the BJP, and exists for its benefit. All of this constitutes contempt of Court, Venugopal said in the consenting letters. He was referring to this tweet:
Contempt of court it seems 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/QOJ7fE11Fy
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) November 11, 2020
Though proceedings are yet to be formally launched, Kamra has rubbished the developments. He declared that the Supreme Court should allot its scarce resources to more important matters such as petitions against revocation of Article 370 and legality of electoral bonds, instead of hearing contempt proceedings against him. He has no intention to retract his tweets or apologise for them, he said. “I believe they speak for themselves,” he added.
Those who wrote to Venugopal seeking his consent are: one Skand Bajpai from Kanpur; Shrirang Katneshwarkar, a law student from Aurangabad; Rizwan Siddiquee, an advocate; and two Pune-based lawyers, Amey Abhay Sirsikar and Abhishek Sharad Raskar. Altogether, the AG received ten such letters, seeking permission to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Kamra, of which he granted consent for eight, per Bar & Bench.
In July, the Supreme Court made an example of advocate Prashant Bhushan, hauling him up suo moto for contempt of court regarding a tweet critical of the Supreme Court. Twitter had restricted two of Bhushan’s tweets in India following a demand from the Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court had did not explicitly ordered Twitter to withhold the tweet in India, the bench had left little room for interpretation on what the platform was expected to do. After he had refused to apologise, Bhushan was penalised with a ₹1 fine as punishment on him for committing criminal contempt with his tweets ‘scandalising the court’.