Attorney General KK Venugopal on Monday said that the government should not curb open discussions on social media, which are required to keep the democracy healthy, NDTV reported.
Venugopal also told the news channel in an interview that the Supreme Court initiates contempt proceedings against a person only in the “rarest of rare cases”.
“For a healthy democracy, open discussions on social media should not be curbed,” the attorney general told NDTV. “The Supreme Court normally does not react to criticism unless lines are crossed.”
Venugopal added that curtailing the citizens’ freedom to speak out on social media would be unnecessary. “The government should not bring any move to curtail this freedom. We need open democracy and open discussions.”
Venugopal recently gave consent for contempt proceedings against cartoonist Rachita Taneja and comedian Kunal Kamra for their tweets criticising the Supreme Court.
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The case against Taneja, the creator of webcomic Sanitary Panels, 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. Venugopal had said last week that 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 was biased towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. He said that Taneja’s tweet was “clearly calculated” to undermine public confidence in the impartiality of the Supreme Court of India.
The case against Kamra is also related to the Supreme Court granting bail to Goswami. Contempt proceedings against Kamra were initiated against comedian on November 12.
Venugopal, while giving his consent to the proceeding, had said that the comedian’s tweets were “highly objectionable” and “constituted 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.
Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan was in August held guilty of criminal contempt and ordered to pay Re 1 as fine for his tweets criticising the judiciary. The advocate repeatedly said that his tweets were a constructive criticism of the judiciary and that retracting his statement or offering an insincere apology would amount to “contempt of my conscience”.