Top
Top Stories

Foundation Of Supreme Court Is Much Stronger, Criticism Can Never Be Contempt: Mukul Rohatgi Submits For Rachita Taneja

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
29 Jan 2021 7:12 AM GMT
Foundation Of Supreme Court Is Much Stronger, Criticism Can Never Be Contempt: Mukul Rohatgi Submits For Rachita Taneja
x

"A criticism of the court is not contempt," submitted Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi before the Supreme Court today in the contempt proceedings initiated against comic artist Rachita Taneja for her tweets against the Judiciary. "I don't know why the Court has issued notice. The foundation of Court is much stronger," Rohtagi submitted on behalf of comic illustrator Taneja today,...

Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
599+GST
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

"A criticism of the court is not contempt," submitted Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi before the Supreme Court today in the contempt proceedings initiated against comic artist Rachita Taneja for her tweets against the Judiciary.

"I don't know why the Court has issued notice. The foundation of Court is much stronger," Rohtagi submitted on behalf of comic illustrator Taneja today, indicating that a Court's majesty cannot fall by mere criticism.

Responding to his submissions, Justice Ashok Bhushan remarked, "We agree with you. But it is growing and everybody is doing it,"

"Here is a girl aged 25 years. A criticism of the court is not contempt.There is a public perception why the Supreme Court has taken up the case of a journalist on vacation. A criticism of the court is not contempt",  he added, referring to the court hearing Arnab Goswami's plea for bail on urgent basis during Diwali vacations.

At this juncture, Justice MR Shah interrupted Rohatgi saying "Mr.Rohatgi, if you want to file reply, do that".

Rohtagi urged the Court to consider Taneja's case separately from Kunal Kamra's case. The Bench thereafter adjourned the matter for three weeks.

It may be noted that the contempt case against comedian Kunal Kamra has been adjourned for two weeks, to enable the Petitioners to respond to theaffidavit filed by Kamra.

The Supreme Court had issued notice to comic illustrator Rachita Taneja on December 18, 2020,  on a petition seeking criminal contempt action against her over her caricatures published in 'Sanitary Panels' social media handles about the judiciary.

The bench noted that the Attorney General has granted consent for initiating contempt action.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah issued notice on the petition filed by law student Aditya Kashyap.

Senior Advocate PS Narasimha, appearing for the petitioner on the day of admission, stated that the tweets by Taneja were intended only to malign and scandalise the Supreme Court of India.

Earlier, the 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 judiciary".

"The tweet is clearly calculated to undermine the public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the Supreme Court of India," the AG had said.

A Law student had thereafter moved the Supreme Court seeking initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against the comic artist.

"The three alleged posts in the form of cartoons/ caricatures have shaken the public trust and confidence in the judicial system of our constitutional democracy by directly attacking and making insinuations against the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India," the plea filed by a 5th Year law student Aditya Kashyap through Advocate Namit Saxena said.

The first tweet against which the AG gave consent for contempt was an illustration of Arnab Goswami intimidating Supreme Court by stating that BJP is his "Father". Referring to the same the Petitioner has said,

"..on the face of it, the alleged contemnor has interfered with the administration of justice by portraying the Supreme Court and the current ruling party to be the father of the abovesaid journalist Mr. Arnab Goswami. This is in view to generate an impression that being the father of the said journalist, the Supreme Court was bound to grant him warmth and protection by keeping an arm around his shoulder and there was some nexus with the ruling establishment for this."

Another tweet for which the AG had granted consent refers to the Supreme Court as "Sanghi Court of India" with a saffron flag instead of the tricolour in the illustration. Referring to this the Petitioner said,

"The said cartoon/caricature is highly contemptuous. The building of the Supreme Court has been drawn with the words "Sanghi Court of India". That the very existence of this Hon'ble Court has been threatened by replacing the word 'Supreme' with 'Sanghi'. That the expression 'Sanghi' is infact used to connote Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). The alleged contemnor has expressed that the Supreme Court of the country is no more supreme but has transformed into a Sanghi Court. This is highly contumacious and without any basis whatsoever."

The plea further said,

"That it is also noteworthy that the alleged contemnor has also replaced the national flag of the country with that of saffron flag of RSS at the helm of the building of the Apex Court of this country. This is clearly undermining the dignity of this Hon'ble Court by replacing a national emblem and is a direct assault on the independent institution of judiciary."

The third tweet alleged that there was a bargain by which the judgment pertaining to the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya was delivered to favour the BJP's stand in exchange for a Rajya Sabha seat. Referring to this the Petitioner said,

"Not only is this post extremely defamatory to the institution of judiciary but is highly contemptuous with the use of the expression 'business' to denote dispensation of justice and portrays the entire Supreme Court in bad light."

The law student argued that it is trite law that the law of contempt of court is not to protect the institution of judiciary but to protect rights of citizens to have an independent and fearless judiciary.

Reliance is placed on the verdict in the Prashant Bhushan case,  where it was held that "Indian judiciary is considered by the citizens in the country with the highest esteem. The judiciary is considered as a last hope when a citizen fails to get justice anywhere. The Supreme Court is the epitome of the Indian judiciary. An attack on the Supreme Court does not only have the effect of tending an ordinary litigant of losing the confidence in the Supreme Court but also may tend to lose the confidence in the mind of other judges in the country in its highest court."


Next Story
Share it