Attorney General KK Venugopal on Tuesday gave his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against cartoonist Rachita Taneja, the creator of webcomic Sanitary Panels, Bar and Bench reported. Venugopal gave his consent to law student Aditya Kashyap’s request for contempt proceedings to be initiated against Taneja.
The case against relates to two tweets she made about the Supreme Court granting bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in an abetment to suicide case from 2014. Venugopal said her tweets were an “audacious assault and insult to the institution”.
The attorney general added that one of the tweets, a cartoon that Taneja posted from the official handle of Sanitary Panels, had a “clear implication” that the Supreme Court is biased towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Venugopal said that Taneja’s tweet was “clearly calculated” to undermine public confidence in the impartiality of the Supreme Court of India, according to Live Law.
“I am satisfied that each of the tweets with cartoons attached is in contempt of the Supreme Court of India, hence I grant my consent,” Venugopal added, according to Bar and Bench.
The action against Taneja comes days after, contempt proceedings were initiated against comedian Kunal Kamra on November 12, also for his tweets criticising the Supreme Court order granting interim bail Goswami. In his consent letter, the attorney general said that Kamra’s tweets were “highly objectionable” and it “constitutes criminal contempt of court”. Less than ten days later, Venugopal gave his consent to start another case of contempt proceedings against Kamra for a new tweet directed at Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.
On November 27, the Supreme Court had elaborated on its reasons for granting bail to Goswami, noting that criminal law should not become “a tool for selective harassment of citizens. “Courts must be alive to the need to safeguard the public interest in ensuring that the due enforcement of criminal law is not obstructed,” the bench had said.
Justice DY Chandrachud noted that the Bombay High Court wrote a 56-page detailed order, but did not deal with a basic question on whether an offence was made out prima facie in the case. He also said High Courts were denying personal liberty to people in several cases.
The court had granted bail to Goswami on November 11. It had then too criticised the Bombay High Court for denying relief to the TV anchor.
Goswami and two other people – Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda – had challenged the Bombay High Court’s order rejecting their interim bail plea in the top court. Shaikh and Sarda’s plea for interim release were also accepted. The hearing lasted for over five hours, with a break in between.
The accused allegedly failed to pay money they owed to an interior designer named Anvay Naik, managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited. Naik and his mother were found dead in their home in Kavir village near Mumbai in 2018. A suicide note said that the Goswami, Shaikh and Sarda had not paid dues amounting to Rs 5.4 crore.