SC notice to Kunal Kamra, Rachita Taneja in contempt cases

SC notice to Kunal Kamra, Rachita Taneja in contempt cases
Kunal Kamra. File photo/IANS

New Delhi: The Supreme Court issued show-cause notices to stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja on Friday for their alleged scandalous tweets against the apex court.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R S Reddy and M R Shah sought response from both in six weeks on the notices issued in two separate cases. It, however, exempted them from personal appearances in the cases.

Issue notice returnable within Six weeks. The contemnor respondent not to appear in person, the bench said in its order passed in a plea against Kamra.

Similar order was passed by the bench in the plea against Taneja.

The top court in its two orders noted that Attorney General K K Venugopal has given his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against both the comic artists in separate cases.

Venugopal had granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra, saying the comedian's tweets were in "bad taste" and it was time that people understand that attacking the apex court brazenly would attract punishment.

The attorney general had also given consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Taneja, stating that the caricatures posted by her on social media were intended to denigrate the Supreme Court and lower its authority in the eyes of the public.

The consent of either the attorney general or the solicitor general is necessary under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act for initiating contempt proceedings against a person.

Criminal contempt of the Supreme Court is punishable with a fine of up to Rs 2,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.

The top court had reserved its order on Thursday on a batch of pleas seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Kamra and Taneja.

During the hearing on Thursday, advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, who appeared for one of the petitioners, claimed that Kamra had posted several tweets scandalous to the judiciary.

In the plea against Taneja, senior advocate P S Narasimha and advocate Namit Saxena appeared for law student Aditya Kashyap seeking contempt action against the cartoonist.

Kashyap had said the petition highlighted three particularly outrageous and contemptuous posts that were crafted, posted and shared by Taneja through her social media handles (@sanitarypanels) on various platforms with the malicious intent of scandalising and lowering the authority of the apex court and to prejudice and interfere with the due course of judicial proceedings.

The plea has sought direction that Taneja be restrained from publishing contemptuous posts on social media that scandalise and undermine the authority of the top court.

One of petitions in the Kamra case has been filed by law student Shrirang Katneshwarkar and others.

They have claimed that the stand-up comedian had started publishing tweets on November 11 when the top court was hearing the appeal of Arnab Goswami against the Bombay High Court's order rejecting the journalist's plea seeking interim bail in a 2018 abetment-to-suicide case.

The plea has 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.

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