Contempt Of Court Plea Filed In Supreme Court Against Kunal Kamra

Who is Kunal Kamra?

  • He is a Mumbai based stand-up comedian known for his political commentary.
  • He came into limelight after he started his own web-show and Youtube podcast ‘Shut up ya kunal’ in 2017 with Ramit Verma.
  • The show featured him involving in informal discussions with political guests and activists along with the videos of guests intermixed, showing how they contradict from their own statements from the past, for comic effect.
  • He was banned by five Indian Airlines, in 2020, after an incident on indigo flight, where he allegedly ‘heckled’ the news anchor Arnab Goswami over his journalism and abetment case.

Why initiation of contempt of court against him?

  • Advocate Rizwan Siqqiduee seeks permission of Attorney General KK Venugopal to initiate contempt of court proceedings for his tweets against Supreme Court of India.
  • The letter states that the morphed image of Supreme Court premises, the tweets on judgement of passed by the court and unsavoury comment on Justice D Y Chandrachud which were published on twitter, amounts to a ‘menifest attempt to lower the authority of Supreme Court of India’.
  • Apart from advocate Rizwan, two other Pune based lawyers and a student seeks permission of Attorney General to initate proceedings against the comedian.
  • The letter further states that if unruly and reckless statements like these go unchecked then people like Kumal Kamra who has millions of followers on his social media accounts, will also follow the same path as his influencer and make opinionated allegations whenever a judgment is not in their favour.
  • Final statement of the letter reads that ‘the greatest strength of a judiciary is the faith of the people in it which should not be allowed to erode because of calculated and well-timed propaganda of a few.’

What is the background of the incident?

  • The background of all these tweets are about the judgement of Supreme Court in the abetment case of journalist Arnab Goswami.
  • The two-judge bench of Supreme Court consists of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indira Banerjee granted interim bail to Arnab Goswami and co-accused in abetment to suicide case against them.
  • The Court expresses displeasure with the rulings of Bombay High Court which denied bail to the journalist. The Court said that it is the duty of constitutional courts to intervene if personal liberty is at stake.
  • Justice DY Chandrachud in his statement observed, “If this court were not to interfere today, we are travelling on a path of destruction of personal liberty undeniably… If state governments target individuals in this manner, let’s send out a message that SC is there.”

What were his tweets?

There were four tweets by Kamra, which formed the basis of Rizwan’s allegations. These were:

  • · The first tweet says, “The Supreme Court of this country is the most Supreme joke of this country...”
  • · The second tweet says, “The pace at which the Supreme Court operates in matters of “National Interests” it’s time we replace Mahatma Gandhi’s photo with Harish Salve’s photo...”
  • · The third tweet while criticizing Justice Chandrachud says,“DY Chandrachud is a flight attendant serving champagne to first class passengers after they’re fast tracked through, while commoners don’t know if they’ll ever be boarded or seated, let alone served.”
  • · And the final tweet says, “All lawyers with a spine must stop the use of the prefix “Hon’ble” while referring to the Supreme Court or its judges. Honour has left the building long back...”

What is the current scenario?

  • K K Venugopal granted his permission on Thursday to initiate the criminal contempt of court proceedings against Kamra.
  • According to AG’s office, a total of nine letters had been received asking for his permission regarding the initiation of process.
  • Just a day after Attorney General’s consent, a contempt petition was filed against Kamra in Supreme Court.
  • The petition says, "Kunal 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." The plea further adds that Kamra's comments have the effect of dishonoring the court.
  • Attorney General, K K Venugopal pointed out that those tweets were not only in bad taste but clearly crossed the lines between humour and contempt of court.
  • Letter of Attorney General futher says, “Apart from his tweets, there is a morphed picture of the Supreme Court building dressed in saffron colour with a flag of BJP, having replaced the tricolour. This is a massive insinuation against the entirety of the Supreme Court of India which reflects that the SC is not an independent and impartial institution and so too its judges, but on the other hand is a court of the ruling party, BJP ... All this, in my opinion, constitutes criminal contempt of court.”

Kamra's take over the plea

  • Kunal took a shot back at the petition and Supreme court of India saying that he would not apologize for his tweets.
  • He further said that his views have not changed regarding the stance of Supreme Court in important matters where other’s personal liberty is at stake.
  • He suggested that instead of hearing petition of contempt against him, court must hear plea’s regarding constitutionality of electoral bonds, abrogation of article 370.
  • While referring to Arnab’s incident, Kunal said that the tweets were ‘his views’ on the Supreme Court of India giving partial judgements in the favour of Goswami.
  • Kamra has further stated that though the SC has not held his tweets to be contemptuous yet, he does hope that the judges "have a small laugh" before deciding his case.

What do you think about Kamra’s tweet? Do they come under constructive criticism? What do you think would be the decision of the court? Let us know of your views in the comment section below.

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