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SC, Arnab and Kunal Kamra

As the ferocious journalist, Arnab Goswami, gets arrested every platform roars. Some are ‘For’ while some are ‘Against’ the injudicious arrest. When the Maharashtra police and the Alibag court refused to grant any bail, the Supreme Court intervened. The Supreme Court, which comprises highly educated personnel from the top institutions, passed a resolution to grant interim bail to the journalist.

Everyone in the social media kept quiet. Dumbstruck from the silence, a man gave an astringent remark to the apex court. Kunal Kamra, a stand-up comedian, is known for mocking the government in every way possible. He has strong beliefs and is against every single act by the government. Kamra has sceptical views about the Modi-government. There have been clashes of thoughts between Kamra and Arnab. Both, Karma, a strong hater of the government and Arnab, a strong blind supporter of the government lie on the extreme ends.

A comedian is never dragged into legal procedures, till he is acting within the ambit of his jurisdiction. However, Kamra recently tweeted that the SC was partial when it gave interim bail to Arnab. If he would have said something mocking about Arnab, he would have not been dragged into legal procedures. Here, he has directly lowered the authority of the SC.

Laws regarding “Contempt of Court”

The court was authorized to punish the people for contempt of court since the constitution was published in 1950. However, due to some complications, a committee headed by H.N. Sanyal was formed in 1961, to analyze the contempt laws in India. The Sanyal Committee, hence recommended that the contempt proceeding should be initiated not by the courts, but by an officer of the Court.

The current legislation which governs the contempt of court is- Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The contempt of court can be either civil or criminal as per the following:

  • Civil Contempt: This is said to have been committed when one willfully disobeys the decree, discretion, order, judgement or writ of the court.
  • Criminal Contempt: This is said to have been committed when one publicizes (either by words- spoken or written; or by signs: visible representation or otherwise) any matter of the court which:
  1. Scandalizes or tends to scandalize or lowers the authority of the court.
  2. Tends to interfere with the court proceedings.
  3. Obstructs the administration in any matter.

If one acts innocently, i.e., he/she doesn’t know that the statement they pass or the act they do would amount to contempt of court, they could be spared. But this defense is rare.

“Truth” is a defense, provided it is in public interest. This was brought in an amendment in 2006.

The Section 15(1), of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 states that in case of criminal contempt (except those referred in Section 14 of the act) the Supreme Court or the High may act on its own motion or a motion referred to it by:

  • Advocate General or,
  • Any other person, with the consent in writing of the Advocate General.

This provision of the Act has been taken from the recommendation of the Sanyal Committee. The punishment is not so severe though. A simple imprisonment of six months or a fine of two thousand rupees or both is very easy for a middle-class person which average yearly salary of eight lakhs.

The accused may also be excused for his offense, if he/she accepts the fault and demands an apology.

Role of K.K. Venugopal

Mr. K.K. Venugopal is the Attorney-General of India. The Attorney General is the main legal advisor to the government. We have already gone through the significant role of the consent of the Attorney General in the contempt of court.

It was Skand Bajpai, who brought the plea and sought Mr. Venugopal’s consent to prosecute Kamra. Mr. Venugopal has given his worthy consent to prosecute the comedian for his misconduct.

Venugopal said, ‘People believe that they can boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court of India and its judges by exercising what they believe is their freedom of speech… I believe that this is the time when people understand that attacking the Supreme Court of India unjustifiably and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972.

Kamra’s tweet justified or not?

Kunal Kamra started his journey as a young and bold stand-up comedian. He earned followers on YouTube and social media platforms. However, in present times, he has been widely criticized by the public. He is known to take up controversial issues and mock them. Few months back, he criticized the YouTube star Ajey Nagar (Carry Minati) for his roast videos in a video.

The public, who were diehard fans of Carry Minati despised his video so much that he got more dislikes than likes for his video. His tweet against the apex court’s decision has reduced his fan following. He has angered the Supreme Court. At present he refuses to apologize for his comments on the Supreme Court’s tweet that he had made earlier.

Other cases of Contempt of Court in the recent past

In the recent past, an activist advocate, Prashant Bhushan uploaded a picture of the Chief Justice of India starting a motor cycle. He mocked the CJI in his tweet. The SC upholds and protects the privacy and dignity of its judges. No media is allowed to question the judges after a certain limit.

The post by Prashant Bhushan lowered the dignity of the CJI which further lowered the dignity of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court thus found Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court. However, the court imposed a token fine of only Re. 1, after the activist refused to apologize.

Author:-  Shubhanshi and Shyam Narayan Singh from team


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