New Delhi: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said on Thursday that it is time that people understand that attacking the Supreme Court unjustifiably and brazenly will attract punishment.
The observation was made by the AG while granting consent to initiate contempt proceeding against stand-up comic Kunal Kamra for his tweets against Supreme Court for granting bail to Republic TV Editor in Chief Arnab Goswami in a 2018 abetment to suicide case.
“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,” Venugopal said.
The AG said that the tweets by Kamra were not only in bad taste, but clearly crossed the line between humour and contempt of court.
Shrirang Katneshwarkar, a final year law student from Aurangabad, had written a letter to the AG to initiate contempt proceeding against Kamra for ‘scandalising’ the Supreme Court.
In the letter, he had attached the alleged tweets where derogatory content was published against the top court. Katneshwarkar sought proceedings against Kamra under criminal contempt of the Supreme Court as per Section 2 (c) (i) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
The AG observed that in one of the tweets, a picture was shared where the Supreme Court building was dressed in saffron colour, and a flag of the ruling party had replaced the tricolour.
“This is gross insinuation against the entirety of the Supreme Court of India that it is not an independent and impartial institution, but a court of the ruling party, the BJP. All these in my opinion constitute criminal contempt of court,” said the AG in his response.
The AG said the other tweets were also highly objectionable, and it is for the top court to decide whether they constitute criminal contempt.
“Under the Constitution, the freedom of expression is subject to the law of contempt and I believe it is time that people understand that attacking the Supreme Court unjustifiably and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971,” said the AG while granting consent to initiate contempt proceeding against Kamra.
A contemnor can be punished with simple imprisonment of up to six months or with a fine of up to Rs 2,000 or both.
Similarly, a Mumbai-based lawyer, Rizwan Siddiquee, had also written to the AG citing Kamra’s tweets. The AG has given consent to all the eight individuals who had written to him seeking consent proceeding against Kamra. These individuals can now file criminal contempt petitions in the top court.