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Plea in SC Seeks Initiation of Criminal Contempt Proceedings Against Kunal Kamra

Kunal Kamra.

Kunal Kamra.

The plea was filed a day after Attorney General K K Venugopal granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra, saying the tweets are in bad taste and it is time that people understand that attacking the apex court brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972.

A petition was Friday filed in the Supreme Court seeking initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against stand-up comic artist Kunal Kamra for his alleged scandalous tweets against the apex court. The plea was filed a day after Attorney General K K Venugopal granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra, saying the tweets are in bad taste and it is time that people understand that attacking the apex court brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972.

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 petition, filed by five petitioners including law student Shrirang Katneshwarkar, has claimed that Kamra had started publishing tweets on November 11 when the top court was hearing the appeal of journalist Arnab Goswami against the Bombay High Court's order rejecting his plea seeking interim bail in the 2018 abetment to suicide case.

It alleged that after the top court granted interim bail to Goswami on November 11, Kamra again published various tweets and thereby scandalized the apex court and further lowered its authority. The alleged contemnor (Kamra) has the following of 1.7 million people. The scandalous tweets of the alleged contemnor were seen by his followers and many of them retweeted the same.

"All the petitioners viewed the scandalous tweets published by the alleged contemnor and first thought came in their mind is to file a criminal contempt against the alleged contemnor, said the plea, filed through advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar. It alleged that when some persons tried to make Kamra aware about the contempt of court, he was rude, arrogant and unapologetic and his conduct shows that he has no regard for the top court.

The plea, which referred to the consent granted by the top law officer to proceed by way of initiating contempt proceedings against Kamra, alleged that his tweets are in such bad taste that an ordinary prudent man can gather that he has scandalised the apex court. The citizens of India have highest regard to the courts of law. No law abiding citizen of this country would tolerate such act of publication of tweets by the alleged contemnor (Kamra), it said.

This court, by showing magnanimity and grace had let off the contemnors in the past upon tendering apology. But the conduct of the alleged contemnor is so harsh that the alleged contemnor does not deserve any sympathy at the hands of this court even in case of tendering apology. Citizens of this country strongly believe that the people like the alleged contemnor should not be spared at any cost, it said. Venugopal had Thursday granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra for his tweets and said that 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 had said in his letter to one of the applicants who had sought his consent for initiation of contempt proceedings against Kamra. In one of the letters seeking Attorney General's consent for initiation of contempt proceedings against Kamra, three lawyers had claimed that Kamra had allegedly attempted to lower the authority of the Supreme Court of India through his tweets after the apex court had granted interim bail to Goswami.

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