Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja appear to have landed in big trouble as India's Supreme Court has issued contempt notices to them for their criticism of the court and its judges in tweets and illustrations respectively.
Kamra and Rachita had criticised the apex court for fast-tracking the hearing of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami's bail appeal after his arrest on 4 November in a 2018 alleged abetment to suicide case. Through their tweets, they alleged that the court had given a partial decision in favour of Goswami, who was released from jail on bail on 11 November.
In the notices issued by justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, and M.R. Shah, the court had asked them to respond in six weeks and explain why contempt actions should not be taken against them for "scandalising the judiciary".
The court, however, has exempted them from personal appearances.
Eight people, mostly lawyers, have filed cases against Kamra for criticising the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court of this country is the the most Supreme joke of this country...— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) November 11, 2020
He refused to apologise for his tweets criticising the Supreme Court and commented in a statement that "silence of the Supreme Court on matters of other's personal liberty cannot go uncriticised".
No lawyers, No apology, No fine, No waste of space 🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/B1U7dkVB1W— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) November 13, 2020
In a stinging rebuff to Kamra, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said that his tweets were "in bad taste" and "crossed the line between humour and contempt".
Earlier this month, Venugopal, the chief legal adviser of the government, consented to initiate contempt proceedings against Rachita Taneja for posting illustrations against the Supreme Court on her Twitter handle Sanitary Panels which he said was a "gross insinuation" against the top court of the country and "audacious assault and insult to the institution".
This is not the first time that Kamra has been in hot water. In January 2020, he tweeted a 1.51-minute video of him confronting Arnab Goswami during a flight from Mumbai to Lucknow and calling him "mentally unstable".
Shortly thereafter the video went viral on social media and many Indian airlines imposed a ban on Kamra for "heckling" a fellow traveller.