Attorney General K K Venugopal granted consent for initiating contempt proceedings in three cases out of 41 requests received during 2020, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply that in the year 2020, the attorney general granted consent under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 for three cases only out of a total of 41 requests received during the year.
Listing out the three cases, the minister said the AG granted consent to initiate contempt proceedings in respect of tweets dated November 11, 2020 by Kunal Kamra. The consent was granted on November 12, 2020 to Abhyudaya Mishra, Amey Abhay Susikar, Pratik Basale, Skand Bajpai, Abhishek Sharad Raskar, Nitika Duhan, Shrirang Katneshwarkar and Saityendra Vinayak Muley. He also gave consent in respect of tweet dated November 18, 2020 by Kunal Kamra. The consent was granted on November 18, 2020 to Ahyudaya Mishra and Skand Bajpai.
The minister said the AG also gave consent in respect of tweets dated November 11, 2020 by Rachita Taneja. The consent was granted on December 1, 2020 to Aditya Kashyap. The power to grant consent for initiating contempt proceedings is a statutory power conferred on the attorney general under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, he observed. "This is a power to be exercised by the attorney general exclusively on his best judgment and is not a power which can be the subject of directions by the Government of India. As such no communication has been sent by the attorney general to the government nor has the government issued any communications to the AG regarding grant of consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings," Prasad said. K K Venugopal was appointed as Attorney General for India on July 1, 2017. "During the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 he did not grant any consent," the minister said.
The law minister was asked whether the government has received from or issued any communication to the AG regarding giving consent to contempt proceedings against cartoonists, comedians and other artists. He was also asked whether the government has laid out any advisories or guidelines on giving consent to contempt proceedings in the country and the total number of contempt proceedings assented to by the AG in the Supreme Court since 2005.