The Supreme Court heard contempt of court pleas against comedian Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja, creator of Sanitary Panels, on Thursday. It will now pass orders on the case tomorrow, on December 18, reported Live Law. Both Kamra and Taneja had lampooned the Supreme Court’s alleged bias towards Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The court has set December 18 as the next date of hearing.
Advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar appeared on behalf of the petitioners for less than a minute to address a bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan, and comprising of justices R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.
On November 12, Attorney General KK Venugopal had given his consent to initiate proceedings against Kamra, following a series of tweets in which Kamra criticised the Supreme Court as the “Supreme Joke of this country”. Kamra’s criticism came after Republic TV chief editor Arnab Goswami was granted bail. Subsequently, a fourth-year law student, Skand Bajpai, moved the court seeking to initiate contempt proceedings against Kamra.
The tweets, according to Venugopal, “attacked” the apex court and were “in bad taste” and “clearly cross the line between humor and contempt of the court”.
Kamra has written an open letter refusing to apologise.
On December 1, Taneja also faced contempt of court proceedings after her channel Sanitary Panels tweeted a stick-figure cartoon on November 11, the day Goswami was released on bail. The cartoon depicted the Supreme Court of India with a saffron flag and carried the label “Sanghi Court of India”. The image was captioned “Arnab gets bail, real journalists get jail, independent judiciary is fail”.
AG Venugopal granted sanction for contempt proceedings against Taneja, after a complaint was filed against her by another law student. According to Venugopal, the cartoons portray that the “Supreme Court of India was biased towards the ruling party” and thus are an “audacious assault and insult to the institution.”
At the hearing on Thursday, advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar said he would not be reading out the tweets in court. The Court said there was “no need” to read them out as well.
Arnab Goswami was arrested on November 4 from his residence and remanded to 14-days judicial custody for abetment of suicide in a 2018 case involving interior designer Anvay Naik. The Supreme Court granted him interim bail within a week of his arrest even as several journalists remained in jail over several months, with their bail pleas unheard.
During the next hearing on Friday, the court will decide whether to issue show-cause notices and initiate criminal contempt against Kumar and Taneja.