Criminal contempt case: Supreme Court adjourns hearing against Comedian Kunal Kamra

Umamageswari Maruthappan

The Supreme Court had adjourned the hearing of the petition against Comedian Kunal Kamra for two weeks following the petitioner’s request seeking time to respond to the respondent’s affidavit.

The request was made to the Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah through the Advocate on Record, on behalf of the petitioner.

A petition was filed against Comedian Kunal Kamra for his twitter comments which is alleged to have dishonored the Legacy and credits of the Indian Courts and Judges.

Two of his tweets read: “honour has left the building (Supreme Court) long back” and ‘Supreme Court of the country is the most Supreme joke of the country”.

This, the petitioner commented that is liable under criminal contempt. Further, on 12th November 2020, Attorney General K K Venugopal had expressed his resentment towards Kamra’s conduct.

“I find that today 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. But under the Constitution, the freedom of speech is subject to the law of contempt and I believe that it is time that people understand that attacking the Supreme Court of India unjustifiedly and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972,” the AG stated.

He further added, “This is a gross insinuation against the entirety of the Supreme Court of India that the Supreme Court of India is not an independent and impartial institution and so too its judges, but on the other hand is a court of the ruling party, the BJP, existing only for the BJP’s benefit.”

The comments of the AG came in response to an image shared by Kamra portraying the Supreme Court in saffron colour with the flag of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

On 18th December 2020, the Apex Court had issued a notice to the Comedian responding to which Kamra filed a Counter affidavit on 28th January 2021.

In his affidavit, Kamra stated that his tweets were just jokes and had no intention to reduce the public faith in the Judiciary. He also contended that nowadays people perceive everything to be offensive and contempt.

The suggestion that my tweets could shake the foundations of the most powerful court in the world is an over-estimation of my abilities. Just as the Supreme Court values the faith the public places in it (and seeks to protect it by the exercise of its criminal contempt jurisdiction in the judiciary is founded on the institution’s own actions, and not on any criticism or commentary about it,” the affidavit reads.

The Comedian firmly stated that he would not apologize for his comments and also bothered that the Apex Court could use the petition’s hearing periods for some other relevant pending cases.