Comedian Kamra refuses to apologise for contempt of SC

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 1/30/2021 4:03:05 PM

NEW DELHI, Jan 29: In a criminal contempt of court case adjourned to come up before the Supreme Court on February 15, stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra has refused to apologise for the contempt, asserting that "public faith in the judiciary is founded on its own actions and not on any criticism or commentary." The case was adjourned since the Court got his affidavit only Friday morning.
In an affidavit filed in response to a notice issued to him for his objected tweets on the top court, Kamra said the suggestion that his tweets/jokes on the Supreme Court could shake the foundations of the most powerful court in the world is an over-estimation of his abilities.
Also listed with his case another criminal contempt case against Bengaluru-based cartoonist Rachita Taneja Taneja, who draws illustrations on her website Sanitary Panels on politics, society and culture. 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 Attorney general had recorded while permitting the contempt petition against her.
Since she had not replied, the Court gave her three more weeks to reply, fixing the next hearing on February 22. Appearing on her behalf, senior counel Mukul Rohatgi said foundation of the court is strong and criticism of the court can never be a contempt, that too by a 25-year old girl. The Court agreed with him that its foundation is strong, but such allegations are made often and so she must first reply.
Those facing criminal contempt are mandatorily required to be present in the court, but a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R S Reddy and M R Shah, deviated by exempting both Kamra and Taneja from their personal appearance in the hearing.
Mincing no words, Kamra said the idea that any institution of power in a democracy is beyond criticism is like saying that the migrants need to find their way back home during an ill-planned nationwide lockdown. Such an idea is irrational and undemocratic, he said.
"Just as the Supreme Court values the faith that public places in it, it should also trust the public not to form its opinions of the Court on the basis of a few jokes on Twitter," the affidavit said.
Kamra wanted the top court to realise that "jokes are made on a comedians perception" as they are used to make people laugh but many people do not react to jokes which do not make them laugh like the political leaders who ignore their critics.
"Humour attempts to blunt the Grimes of the situation and offers a measure of comfort to the afflicted," he affirmed, stating that if the Court feels that he has crossed the line and wants him to shut down his internet posts, "I will write Happy Independence Day post cards every August 15 just like my Kashmiri friends."
Disputing the concept that the judges are unable to discharge their duties "only on account of being subjected to satire or comedy," the comedian referred to a growing culture of intolerance in the country where taking offense is seen as a fundamental right and has
been elevated to a status of a much loved national indoor sport.
Adverting to the case of comedian Munawar Faruqui, the affidavit said: "We are witnessing an assault on freedom of speech and expression with comedians like MunnawarFaruqui jailed for jokes they have not made and school students being interrogated for sedition. At such a time I hope this Court will display that freedom of speech and expression is a cardinal principle."
On November 12, Attorney General K K Venugopal had granted permission to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Kamra, following complaints by a law student and lawyers who had drawn his attention to four tweets by Kamra. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 requires a private individual to file a contempt of court petition in the Supreme Court only after obtaining the consent of the Attorney General or the Solicitor General. The petitioners in the case were Abhyudayaa Mishra of Gorakhpur and Skand Bajpai
The tweets for which the AG had granted consent dubbing the comedian's remark in "bad taste" are:
-- The Supreme Court of this country is the most Supreme joke of this country...
-- The pace at which the Supreme Court operates in matters of “National Interests” it’s time we replace Mahatma Gandhi’s photo with
(senior advocate) Harish Salve’s photo...
-- (Justice) 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.
-- 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...
Kamra had also posted a morphed image of the Supreme Court building with an orange shade and depicting a BJP flag hoisted in the foyer of the Supreme Court.

 

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