New Delhi: Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal Thursday gave consent to eight persons, including lawyers, to initiate contempt of court proceedings against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra for his tweets criticising the Supreme Court and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
“This is 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 for the BJP’s benefit. All this in my opinion constitutes criminal contempt of court,” the AG said in his letter to the lawyers.
In a series of tweets posted Wednesday, after the top court’s order to grant bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in a 2018 suicide abetment case, Kamra criticised the SC for fast-tracking the hearing of his appeal.
Goswami had moved the top court against the Bombay High Court order that refused him bail as an interim measure until it disposed of his plea to quash the FIR.
The bench, also comprising Justice Indira Banerjee, had expressed concern over high courts failing to do their duty to preserve personal liberty of citizens and even questioned the invocation of abetment to suicide charge in a commercial dispute.
Following Kamra’s tweets, the AG’s office received eight letters, asking for his consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, and the Supreme Court of India rules.
Tweets are ‘highly objectionable’
In the AG’s opinion, Kamra’s tweets are “highly objectionable” and constitute criminal contempt of court.
He, however, said it was for the top court to take a final call and decide the question whether the tweets amounted to criminal contempt.
Venugopal asserted freedom of speech and expression is not absolute, but is subject to the law of contempt.
“I find that today people believe that they can boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court of India and its judges by exercising what they believe is their freedom of speech,” he said.
Venugopal’s letter further stated: “…I believe that it is time that people understand that attacking the Supreme Court of India brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.”