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Supreme Court Issues Notice to Kunal Kamra & Rachita Taneja Over Contempt Pleas

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Source: Rachita Taneja's Facebook account and Kunal Kamra's Twitter

Kunal Kamra and Rachita Taneja were issued show cause notices by the Supreme Court of India on Friday. The two have been asked to explain why contempt proceedings shouldn’t be taken against them. Kamra, a comedian, and Taneja, a cartoonist, have been given six weeks to respond, reported ANI news.

Kamra and Taneja are facing contempt of court charges for lampooning the Supreme Court on social media. Both have been told that they need not appear physically before the court.

On Thursday, advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar had appeared on behalf of the petitioners of the case, two law students. The bench hearing the case is 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 later wrote an open letter refusing to apologise for his tweets.

On December 1, AG Venugopal granted sanction to initiate contempt proceedings against Taneja, after a complaint was filed against her by another law student. Taneja’s channel Sanitary Panels had tweeted a stick-figure cartoon on November 11, the day Goswami was released on bail. The cartoon depicted the Supreme Court 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”. Venugopal argued that the aforementioned cartoons portray that the “Supreme Court of India was biased towards the ruling party” and this constitutes an “audacious assault and insult to the institution”.

Taneja subsequently told journalist Priya Ramani in an interview that she is also on the board of trustees of digital liberties organisation, Internet Freedom Foundation, which “fights for our right to use the internet with liberties granted by the Constitution”.

Arnab Goswami was arrested on November 4 and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days 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.

Kamra and Taneja have not commented on the show cause notice thus far.

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