The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on contempt petitions filed against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja. It will decide on Friday on whether or not to issue them show-cause notices in the matter, reported Bar and Bench.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah heard Advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar for less than a minute, on a batch of petitions filed against the two people, according to Bar and Bench. Katneshwarkar appeared for the petitioners.
The case against Kamra relates to a series of tweets he put out criticising the Supreme Court for the manner in which it had fast-tracked Republic TV owner Arnab Goswami’s bail plea in an abetment to suicide case, even as thousands of undertrials languishing in jails across the country find it difficult to get a hearing.
Various people immediately sent letters to Attorney General KK Venugopal asking for permission to prosecute Kamra for contempt of court. The attorney general gave his go ahead on November 12, after which petitions were moved before the Supreme Court seeking contempt action.
Venugopal had said that the tweets by Kamra were “not only in bad taste but clearly cross the line between humor and contempt of the court.” Less than 10 days later, the attorney general gave approval for another set of contempt proceedings against the comedian for a tweet directed at Chief Justice of India SA Bobde.
Kamra has maintained that he would not retract his tweets criticising the Supreme Court or apologise. “No lawyers, no apology, no fine, no waste of space,” Kamra said on Twitter. Kamra was unrepresented on Thursday.
On the other hand, on December 1, Venugopal gave his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Taneja, the creator of webcomic Sanitary Panels. Her case also relates to two tweets she made about the Supreme Court granting bail to Goswami in an abetment to suicide case.
Venugopal said 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.
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”.
Goswami and two other people – Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda – 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.