Attorney General K K Venugopal Thursday granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against stand-up comic artist Kunal Kamra for his tweets which allegedly criticised the Supreme Court, saying the tweets are in bad taste and it is time that people understand that attacking the apex court brazenly will attract punishment.
Venugopal said today people believe that they can boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court of India and its judges by exercising their freedom of speech, but under the Constitution, the freedom of speech is subject to the law of contempt.
I have gone through each one of the tweets which you have annexed for consent to proceed by way of criminal contempt against Kunal Kamra. The tweets which I am extracting below are not only in bad taste but clearly cross the line between humour and contempt of the court, the Attorney General said in his letter to one of the applicants who had sought consent of the top law officer for initiation of contempt proceedings against Kamra.
I therefore grant consent to proceed by way of initiating contempt proceedings against Kunal Kamra, Venugopal said.
The consent of either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General is necessary, under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, for initiating contempt proceedings against a person.
The Attorney General said the other tweets also are highly objectionable and it would perhaps be for the court to decide the question as to whether these tweets also would constitute criminal contempt of the Supreme Court of India," he said.
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.
"But under the Constitution, the freedom of speech is subject to the law of contempt and I believe that it is time that people understand that attacking the Supreme Court of India unjustifiedly and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972, Venugopal said.
Referring to tweets by Kamra, he said there is also "a picture of the Supreme Court building dressed in saffron colour with a flag of ruling party, namely the BJP having replaced the Tricolour."
"This is a 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 BJPs benefit. All this in my opinion constitutes criminal contempt of court, he said.
In one of the letters seeking Attorney General's consent for initiation of contempt proceedings against Kamra, three lawyers have claimed that he allegedly attempted to lower the authority of the Supreme Court of India through his tweets after the apex court had granted interim bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.
In another letter, a Pune-based lawyer has stated that Kamra's unsavoury comments on a sitting apex court judge and circulation of a morphed image of the Supreme Court premises, were published on Twitter.
The apex court had Wednesday granted interim bail to journalist Arnab Goswami in the 2018 abetment to suicide case, saying it will be a "travesty of justice" if personal liberty is curtailed.
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