Attorney General KK Venugopal had earlier given his consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against the two.

A collage of comedian Kunal Kamra and comic by artist Sanitary Panels
news Court Thursday, December 17, 2020 - 12:41

The Supreme Court on Thursday stated that it will pronounce orders on contempt pleas filed against comedian Kunal Kamra as well as comic artist Sanitary Panels, who are both facing criminal contempt charges for their tweets against the Supreme Court of India.

The plea against Kunal Kamra first came up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan which heard the submissions of advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, who appeared for one of the petitioners and claimed that Kamra had posted several tweets scandalous to the judiciary.

"All these tweets are scandalous and we had sought consent from the attorney general," Katneshwarkar told the bench. He read out the letter of Attorney General K K Venugopal, who had granted consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Kamra. The bench asked the lawyer not to read the alleged contemptuous tweets of the comic artist in the open court, saying they have already gone through Venugopal's letter on the issue.

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.

One of the petitions has been filed by law student Shrirang Katneshwarkar, who has claimed that Kamra had started publishing tweets on November 11, when the top court was hearing the appeal of journalist Arnab Goswami against the Bombay High Court's order rejecting his plea seeking interim bail in a 2018 abetment to suicide case. Attorney General KK Venugopal, the next day, gave his nod to start the contempt proceeding. On November 20, based on the request from a Prayagraj-based lawyer, the Attorney General also granted consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Kunal Kamra for his tweet on November 18, reportedly against Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. Calling the tweets “grossly vulgar and obnoxious”, AG Venugopal had said that it would tend to “lower the authority of the Supreme Court and undermine the confidence that the litigant public has in the institution of the Supreme Court itself.”  Comedian Kunal Kamra refused to either retract his tweets or offer an apology.

Also read: â€˜May I suggest other matters…’: Kunal Kamra asks SC to hear more important cases

Meanwhile, the bench also heard the plea against comic artist Sanitary Panels for her tweet which was an "audacious assault and insult to the institution” of the Supreme Court. The first is a comic of Republic editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami between figures labelled the Supreme Court and the Bharatiya Janata Party, with a speech bubble on Arnab stating “Tu Janta Nahi Mera Baap Kaun Hai (You don’t know who my father is).” The AG, while granting his consent for criminal proceedings, had said that her tweets carry a “gross insinuation” against the Supreme Court of India to the effect that it has “ceased to be an impartial organ” of the state. “The tweet is clearly calculated to undermine the public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the Supreme Court of India,” the AG had noted.

The court will also pass orders on the plea seeking action against her on Friday.