Stand-up comedian and satirist Kunal Kamra on Friday refused to retract his “objectionable tweets” against the Supreme Court or apologise for them, saying he believes they “speak for themselves”.
“The tweets I recently put out have been found in contempt of court. All that I tweeted was from my view of the Supreme Court of India giving a partial decision in favour of a Prime Time Loudspeaker,” Kamra said in an open letter addressed to Attorney General of India KK Venugopal and the Supreme Court judges.
Kamra’s statement comes a day after Venugopal gave his consent for initiating criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra for his “objectionable tweets” against the apex court and its judges, including Justice D Y Chandrachud. Kamra had written a series of tweets following the court giving interim bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.
“My view hasn’t changed because the silence of the Supreme Court of India on matters of other’s personal liberty cannot go uncriticized. I don’t intend to retract my tweets or apologise for them. I believe they speak for themselves,” the letter added.
He also referred to contempt proceedings against lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who had earlier this year refused to apologise for his “derogatory tweets” against the Supreme Court and was held guilty of contempt and fined with a token sum of one rupee.
“I wish to volunteer having the time that would be allotted to the hearing of my contempt petition (20 hours at the very least, if Prashant Bhushan’s hearing is anything to go by), to other matters and parties who have not been as lucky and privileged as I am to jump the queue,” Kamra said.
Kamra went on to list some important petitions pending in front of the court.
“May I suggest the demonetisation petition, the petition challenging the revocation of J&K’s special status, the matter of the legality of electoral bonds or countless other matters that are more deserving of time and attention,” he wrote.
“The Supreme Court of India hasn’t yet declared my tweets anything as of now but if and when they do I hope they can have a small laugh before declaring them Contempt of Court,” Kamra said.
Earlier on Thursday, Venugopal, the AG, termed Kamra’s tweets “highly objectionable”, “bad in taste” and said they clearly “cross the line between humour and contempt of court”. He said it was time for people to understand that attacking the apex court brazenly will attract punishment.
The AG was responding to multiple requests for initiating criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra.
“I find that people today believe they can boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court of India and its judges by exercising what they believe is their freedom of speech,” the AG said.
“But under the Constitution, freedom of speech is subject to the law of contempt and I believe it is time people understand that attacking the Supreme Court of India unjustifiedly and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972,” he said.
The consent of either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General is necessary, under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, for initiating contempt proceedings against a person.
Earlier on Wednesday afternoon, when the SC was discussing the bail plea of Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Kamra made a series of tweets about the top court and its judges.
“The Supreme Court of this country is the most Supreme joke of this country…,” one of his tweets read.
In another tweet, he posted the picture of the Supreme Court coloured in saffron with a BJP flag hoisted atop.
Kamra even joked about the AG’s consent for initiating criminal contempt proceedings against him.
“Don’t even call it contempt of court call it contempt of future Rajya Sabha Seat,” he tweeted, with a laughing emoticon.