‘Criticism isn’t contempt’: Comic illustrator Rachita Taneja tells Supreme Court

Comedian Kunal Kamra, meanwhile, argued that public faith in the judiciary isn’t shaken by any criticism or commentary but by its actions.

ByNL Team
‘Criticism isn’t contempt’: Comic illustrator Rachita Taneja tells Supreme Court
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In the latest hearing in the contempt proceedings initiated against comic artist Rachita Taneja for her tweets against the judiciary, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi argued before the Supreme Court today that criticism of the court is not contempt, Live Law reported.

"Here is a girl aged 25 years. A criticism of the court is not contempt. There is a public perception of why the Supreme Court has taken up the case of a journalist on vacation," he said, raising doubts on why the court has issued notice. “The foundation of the court is much stronger,” he added.

In response, the judge said that if he wanted to file a reply, he could do that.

On December 18, the Supreme Court had issued notice to Taneja over her caricatures published in social media handles, which goes by the name Sanitary Panels. Earlier, attorney general KK Venugopal had granted consent to initiate contempt proceedings against her after observing that her caricatures amounted to “shaking the public confidence in the judiciary”. He had said, "The tweet is clearly calculated to undermine the public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the Supreme Court of India.”

Following this, Aditya Kashyap, a law student, moved SC seeking initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against her.

The apex court also heard the contempt case against comedian Kumal Kamra who, according to the attorney general, had allegedly tweeted ‘highly objectionable’ tweets against the judiciary. He had stated that it is time that people understand that attacking the apex court unjustifiably and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972.

On Thursday, Kamra filed a counter-affidavit before the Court, stating that his tweets were not published with the intention of insulting the Court, instead, they were to draw its attention to and prompt an engagement with issues that he believes are relevant to the Indian democracy.

“My tweets were not published with the intention of diminishing the faith of the people in the highest court of our democracy. It is funny though, how little faith the petitioner appears to have in the people of this country. The suggestion that my tweets could shake the foundations of the most powerful court in the world is an overestimation of my abilities,” he said.

Kamra stated that no institution of power, not even courts are beyond criticism in a democracy. "I believe that constitutional offices, including judicial, know no protection from jokes. I do not believe that any high authority, including judges, would find themselves unable to discharge their duties only on account of being the subject of satire or comedy,” he said.

Since Rohtagi urged the court to consider Taneja’s case separately from that of Kamra, the bench adjourned it for three weeks, scheduling Kamra’s matter after two weeks.

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