Stand-up comic artist Kunal Kamra on Friday refused to retract his controversial tweets against the Supreme Court or apologise for them, saying he believes they “speak for themselves”.
Kamra's statement comes a day after Attorney General K K Venugopal consented to the initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against him for a series of tweets following the apex court giving interim bail to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.
“The tweets I recently put out have been found in contempt of court. All that I tweeted was from my view of the Supreme Court of India giving a partial decision in favour of a Prime Time Loudspeaker,” he said in a statement addressed to Venugopal and the judges on his Twitter page.
“My view hasn't changed because the silence of the Supreme Court of India on matters of other's personal liberty cannot go uncriticized. I don't intend to retract my tweets or apologise for them. I believe they speak for themselves,” he added.
Kamra, who was banned by several airlines after he heckled Goswami on an IndiGo flight earlier this year, said he enjoys a platform with a captive audience but a time slot before the Supreme Court is a scarce commodity and should go to more pressing issues in front of the nation.
He also referred to contempt proceedings against lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who had refused to apologise for his derogatory tweets and was held guilty of contempt earlier this year.
“I wish to volunteer having the time that would be allotted to the hearing of my contempt petition (20 hours at the very least, if Prashant Bhushan's hearing is anything to go by), to other matters and parties who have not been as lucky and privileged as I am to jump the queue,” Kamra said.
The stand-up comedian and satirist then went on to list the important petitions pending in front of the court, listing the pleas on demonetisation, the challenge to the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status, the matter of the legality of electoral bonds and “countless other matters that are more deserving of time and attention”.
“The Supreme Court of India hasn't yet declared my tweets anything as of now but if and when they do I hope they can have a small laugh before declaring them Contempt of Court,” he said.
The apex court on Wednesday granted interim bail to Goswami in an abetment to suicide case, saying it will be a "travesty of justice" if personal liberty is curtailed.
Terming Kamra's tweets in “bad taste”, Venugopal on Thursday said it was time for people to understand that attacking the apex court brazenly will attract punishment.
“I have gone through each one of the tweets which you have annexed for consent to proceed by way of criminal contempt against Kunal Kamra. The tweets which I am extracting below are not only in bad taste but clearly cross the line between humour and contempt of the court,” the top law officer said in a letter to one of the applicants who had sought his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Kamra.
“I therefore grant consent to proceed by way of initiating contempt proceedings against Kunal Kamra,” Venugopal said.
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.
In one of the letters seeking the attorney general's consent, three lawyers claimed that Kamra had allegedly attempted to “lower the authority of the Supreme Court of India” through his tweets after the apex court granted Goswami bail.