Attorney General KK Venugopal has declined consent for initiating contempt proceedings against actor Swara Bhaskar for alleged derogatory remarks against the Supreme Court over its verdict in the Babri Masjid and Ayodhya land dispute case.
Reports suggest that Bhasker had made the comments at a panel discussion organised by a group called the Mumbai Collective in February. Her remarks regarding the Ayodhya verdict were termed “scandalous” and an “attack on the institution” of the court by the petitioner.
However, rejecting the application seeking sanction for contempt proceedings, the attorney general in a two-page letter on August 21 said Ms. Bhasker’s comment was “perception of the speaker” and is “not an attack on the institution”.
The petitioner, not satisfied with the reasons provided by the AG, has now approached the Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta. Both the solicitor general and the attorney general can give consent under Rule 3 of the Contempt proceedings of the Supreme Court 1975.
Ms. Bhasker, according to the petition, had said during the discussion, “We are living in a country with the SC states in a judgment that demolition of Babri Masjid was unlawful and in the same judgment rewards the same people who brought down the mosque.”
“We are ruled by a government that doesn’t believe in our Consitution… we are ruled by police forces that do not believe in the Consitution… It seems we are now in a situation where are courts are not sure whether they believe in the constitution or not,” she had said.
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In response to the petition seeking sanction for contempt proceedings against the above statements, the AG’s order stated: “The Statement in the first para appears to me a factual one and is a perception of a speaker. The comments refers to the Judgment of Supreme Court and is not an attack on the institution. This does not offer any comment on the Supreme Court itself or say anything that would scandalise or lower the authority of the Supreme Court.”
“The Second Statement is a vague statement not related to any particular Court and something which is so general that no one would take any serious note of this statement. I do not think this is a case where the offence of scandalising of Court or lowering the authority of the Court would arise,” he further said.
The petition was filed by advocate Anuj Saxena, Prakash Sharma, and Mahek Maheshwari on behalf of Usha Shetty, according to LiveLaw. It had alleged Ms. Bhasker’s statements were “cheap stunt of publicity” and were also intended at inciting feelings of no-confidence among the public with respect to the top court and its judges.
The AG’s refusal to initiate contempt case against Ms. Bhasker comes days after the top court held lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan guilty for contempt for making “derogatory” tweets against the judiciary.