A-G gives consent for criminal contempt action against Kunal Kamra

Stand-up comedian’s tweet “gross insinuation against entirety of Supreme Court”

Attorney-General of India K.K. Venugopal on Thursday gave his consent to initiate criminal contempt action in the Supreme Court against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra for a series of tweets which “clearly cross the line between humour and contempt of court”.

“I find that today people believe that they can boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court of India and its judges by exercising what they believe is their freedom of speech. But under the Constitution, the freedom of speech is subject to the law of contempt… I believe it is time people understand that attacking the Supreme Court unjustifiedly and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Court Act,” Mr. Venugopal observed in his consent letter.

A resident of Aurangabad, Shrirang Katneshwarkar, had requested Mr. Venugopal’s permission under the Contempt of Court Act to initiate contempt proceedings against Mr. Kamra for his tweets. The Attorney-General has issued identical consent letters to other separate requests for contempt action against Mr. Kamra.

Mr. Kamra’s tweets were based on the Supreme Court order granting interim bail to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on Wednesday.

One of these tweets shows a picture of the Supreme Court building swathed in saffron colour with the ruling BJP flag flying atop it instead of the Tricolour.

The Attorney-General said this tweet of the picture of the Supreme Court building was a “gross insinuation against the entirety of the Supreme Court of India”.

It insinuated that “the Supreme Court is not an independent and impartial institution and so too its judges, but on the other hand is a court of the ruling party, the BJP, existing for the BJP’s benefit”.

He said the other tweets were also “highly objectionable” and left it to the Supreme Court to decide whether these tweets would also constitute contempt.

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