The Supreme Court on Friday (December 18) issued show-cause notices to comedian Kunal Kamra and comic artist Rachita Taneja on separate petitions seeking criminal contempt proceedings against them for scandalous tweets against the top court.
A Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan asked the two to respond to the petitions in six weeks and explain why criminal contempt proceedings shouldn’t be initiated against them. The court exempted them from personal appearances.
The Supreme Court had on Thursday (December 17) reserved its order in the two cases. It heard advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, who appeared for one of the petitioners, and said Kamra had posted several tweets scandalous to the judiciary. “All these tweets are scandalous and we had sought consent from the attorney general,” PTI quoted Katneshwarkar as saying in court.
Attorney General KK Venugopal had granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra, saying the tweets were in “bad taste” and it was time that people understood that attacking the apex court brazenly would attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972.
The AG also agreed to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Taneja, saying the posts were intended to lower the dignity of the Supreme Court.
The consent of either the attorney general or the solicitor general is necessary under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act for initiating contempt proceedings against a person.
The Contempt of Courts Act was passed in 1971. In 2006, the government brought in an amendment, allowing ‘truth’ as a defence. The punishment for contempt is up to six months in jail or a fine of ₹2,000, or both.