Arnab Hearing: AG Gives Consent to Initiate Contempt Proceedings Against Kunal Kamra Over Tweets

Kamra had joked on the Supreme Court's impartiality on Twitter during the hearing of Arnab Goswami and his two co-accused's bail plea.

New Delhi: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal has given his consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against comedian Kunal Kamra for his tweets on the Supreme Court in the wake of the interim bail that the court had granted to anchor Arnab Goswami on Wednesday.

Venugopal, in a letter to law student Skand Bajpai, who wrote to him seeking consent for contempt proceedings, has written: “I believe it is time people understand that attacking the Supreme Court of India unjustifiedly and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.”

“This is a gross insinuation against the entirety of the Supreme Court that it 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 only for BJP’s benefit,” Venugopal wrote on Kamra, according to LiveLaw. The reference, ostensibly, is to a series of tweets in one of which Kamra posted a morphed photograph of the Supreme Court with a BJP flag in front of it.

Prashant Bhushan, who was recently found in contempt of the court over a tweet, has criticised the AG’s greenlight and said the move would prove “counter productive.”

Bajpai is not the only person to have written to Venugopal in this regard. Advocate Rizwan Siddiquee who has been vocal against Goswami’s arrest, too, had written to the Attorney General against Kamra. A Pune-based lawyer had also sought contempt of court proceedings against him.

According to LiveLaw, Siddiquee’s letter says that during the course of the proceedings and also subsequent to the verdict, Kamra’s “unruly and salacious” tweets, if allowed to go unchecked, would allow influencers having millions of social media followers to start making “reckless allegations and diabolical statements against the judges and the courts who do not decide cases in their favor or in accordance to their liking”. This trend would soon “spell the death knell of an independent judiciary”, the letter says.

The Supreme Court granted interim bail to Goswami, who was arrested in a 2018 abetment to suicide case. During the hearing, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud expressed disappointment that the Bombay high court had not intervened in a matter of personal liberty to grant bail to the Republic TV editor.

Many social media users noted that similar treatment was not given to other journalists or activists who have been jailed by BJP-helmed governments.

Reacting to this, Kamra had posted a series of tweets, saying that the “Supreme Court of this country is the most Supreme joke of this country…”

Siddiquee also included three other tweets in his letter.

The letter adds that in addition to these tweets, Kamra has even tried to “outrage the integrity of the Supreme Court” by posting an image of the court building in orange shade and a BJP flag hoisted in the foyer.

The publication and republication of these tweets scandalise the Supreme Court and prejudice the mind of millions of people, Siddiquee claimed.

“The greatest strength of the judiciary is the faith of the people in it, a belief that should not allowed to erode because of a calculated and well-timed propaganda of a few,” the advocate said in his letter, seeking consent to initiate proceedings under Section 15(1)(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Rule 3 of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court, 1975.

According to Bar & Bench, two Pune-based lawyers and a law student have also sought Venugopal’s consent to initiate contempt proceedings against the stand up comic.

Kamra reacted to these letter’s by posting another tweet, in which he said, “Don’t even call it contempt of court call it contempt of future Rajya Sabha Seat,” in an apparent reference to former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi being nominated to the upper house of parliament by the government.

Note: This article has been updated to include the information of the Attorney General’s decision.