A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan on Friday heard the plea seeking to initiate contempt of court proceedings against comic artist Rachita Taneja. Proceedings against the founder of webcomic Sanitary Panels was initiated after the Attorney General KK Venugopal granted consent on December 1, 2020, for contempt of court proceedings for her Tweets against the judiciary.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Rachita Taneja, requested before the court that his matter be kept separate from comedian Kunal Kamra’s matter and hence asked for a different date of hearing.
Rohatgi request the bench to consider Rachita Taneja’s case separately from Kunal Kamra’s case.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 29, 2021
Bench adjourns the case for three weeks. Kamra’s case adjourned for two weeks.
Taneja’s request came as ‘comedian’ Kunal Kamra refused to tender an apology for his tweet against the apex court for which a contempt notice was issued against him.
In his affidavit filed through advocate Pritha Srikumar Iyer, hours before the hearing on a contempt case against him on Friday, Kamra said that the works of judges should not be hampered due to jokes. He furthered that rather than criticism or commentary, it is the own actions of the judiciary which determines the extent of faith the public would have on the system. “Public’s faith in the judiciary is founded on its own actions, not on criticism about it,” read the affidavit filed by Kamra.
“Should powerful people and institutions continue to show an inability to tolerate rebuke or criticism, we would be reduced to a country of incarcerated artists and flourishing lapdogs,” Kamra told the Supreme Court in his affidavit filed. He added if the court believes he has crossed a line and wants to shut down his Internet indefinitely, then he too will “write Happy Independence Day postcards every August 15 just like his Kashmiri friends”.
Kamra was issued a notice of contempt on December 18 over his tweets attacking the Supreme Court for granting Republic TV editor-in-chief TV Arnab Goswami bail after his arrest in an abetment to suicide case. Eight people, mostly lawyers, have filed cases against him.
The contempt plea was being heard after Attorney General KK Venugopal, on December 1, 2020, gave his consent for initiation of the contempt proceedings on him and on the founder of webcomic Sanitary Panels, Rachita Taneja, who had also Tweeted against the judiciary.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Taneja, further argued before the apex court that criticism of the court cannot be a contempt. “I don’t know why the Court has issued notice. The foundation of Court is much stronger,” Rohtagi submitted on behalf of comic illustrator Taneja today, implying that the Court’s majesty cannot fall by mere criticism.
Responding to Rohatgi, Justice Ashok Bhushan remarked: “We agree. But these days things are going a bit too far…”.
Rohatgi : I don’t know why the Court has issued notice. The foundation of Court is much stronger.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 29, 2021
Justice Bhushan : We agree. But these days things are going a bit too far these days.
“Here is a girl aged 25 years. A criticism of the court is not contempt. There is a public perception of why the Supreme Court has taken up the case of a journalist on vacation. A criticism of the court is not contempt”, Rohatgi added, referring to the court hearing Arnab Goswami’s plea for bail on urgent basis during Diwali vacation. Here, Justice Shah, who was a part of the bench, interrupted and sternly asked senior advocate Rohatgi to simply file the reply for the show cause notice issued to Rachita Taneja.
Rohatgi told the court that he would file a reply in 3 weeks. Following this, SC adjourned the matter for 3 weeks.
For the uninitiated, the Supreme Court had issued a show-cause notice to the cartoonist with a direction to file a reply within 6 weeks. However, no reply has yet been filed on behalf of Taneja
A law student had approached the Attorney General urging him to grant the necessary permission to initiate a contempt proceeding against comic artist Rachita Taneja, the founder of webcomic Sanitary Panels, following her two Tweets dated November 11 and 12, through which Taneja had insinuated a quid pro quo relationship between the Apex Court and the Central government, alleging that on the govt’s direction, the court granted interim relief to Republic TV Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami. The AG had on December 1, 2020, granted permission for the same.