Attorney General okays fresh contempt action against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra

Venugopal says tweet tends to lower authority of Supreme Court and undermines public confidence in it

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Friday consented to contempt action against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra for his “grossly vulgar and obnoxious” tweet with a photograph of two fingers meant to “deliberately insult” the Chief Justice of India.

Mr. Venugopal said the tweet tended to lower the authority of the Supreme Court and undermined public confidence in it.

The tweet was uploaded on November 18.

‘Depiction of the two fingers’

“The depiction of the two fingers, with the legend that he means the middle one, is to deliberately insult the Chief Justice of India, which would equally be an insult to the Supreme Court of India, which the Chief Justice heads”, Mr. Venugopal reasoned.

The consent letter under the Contempt of Court Act of 19750 was in reply to a complaint made by advocate Anuj Singh, a lawyer from Uttar Pradesh.

“The tweet is grossly vulgar and obnoxious, and I have no doubt that it would tend to lower the authority of the Supreme Court as well as undermine the confidence that the litigant public have in the institution of the Supreme Court itself”, the top law officer and constitutional authority wrote.

This is the second consent given by Mr. Venugopal for contempt action against Mr. Kamra in November.

The earlier consent was regarding Mr. Kamra’s tweets on the decision of the Supreme Court to grant interim bail to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.

Refuses to apologise

Mr. Kamra had refused to apologise or retract the tweets. Instead, he tweeted that he wished to “volunteer” the time that may be allotted for hearing his contempt case to others “who have not been as lucky and privileged as I am to jump the queue”.

“May I suggest the demonetisation petition, the petition challenging the revocation of J&K’s special status, the matter of the legality of electoral bonds or countless other matters that are more deserving of time and attention,” he wrote in a statement

Mr. Venugopal had found Mr. Kamra’s tweets, especially one which showed the Supreme Court building morphed in saffron colour with a BJP flag atop instead of the Tricolour, “highly objectionable”.

The law officer had said they “clearly crossed 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”, he observed.

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