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Supreme Court To Pass Orders Tomorrow On Issuing Contempt Notice To Comic Artist Rachita Taneja (Sanitary Panels) For Her Tweets Against SC

Sanya Talwar
17 Dec 2020 6:31 AM GMT
Supreme Court To Pass Orders Tomorrow On Issuing Contempt Notice To Comic Artist Rachita Taneja (Sanitary Panels) For Her Tweets Against SC
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The Supreme Court will pass orders Friday, on the petition seeking issuance of contempt notice against Comic Illustrator Rachita Taneja filed on account of her illustrative tweets depicting Supreme Court being hand in glove with the ruling party, BJP.A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy & MR Shah listed the case for orders after hearing Senior Advocate PS Narsimha appearing...

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The Supreme Court will pass orders Friday, on the petition seeking issuance of contempt notice against Comic Illustrator Rachita Taneja filed on account of her illustrative tweets depicting Supreme Court being hand in glove with the ruling party, BJP.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy & MR Shah listed the case for orders after hearing Senior Advocate PS Narsimha appearing for the petitioner, Aditya Kashyap briefly.

Senior Advocate PS Narasimha stated that the tweets by Taneja were intended only to malign and scandalise the Supreme Court of India. 

While touching upon the grant of consent by the Attorney General, he stated that the reason for initiating criminal contempt requires consent of the Attorney General which is stipulated in Duda's Case and that the process for doing so is extrapolated in Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act.

"This country has always permitted any kind of a fair and proper discussion, even if it is to the extent of being discourteous to the Judges. Doesn't really matter, as long as there is a dialogue where one can impugn the judgment of the court to be incorrectly decided, but your lordships will in fact welcome it. In none of these tweets you will find an iota of a discussion about the merits or demerits of the decision taken by your lordships. They are intended only to malign and scandalise the Supreme Court of India"
- Senior Advocate PS Narsimha Tells SC

He further added that a person's view is read and retweeted on social media and added, while referring to Kamra's Contempt case which is also listed on Friday for orders.

Attorney General KK Venugopal had granted consent to initiate contempt proceedings against her.

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 Attorney General for India, KK Venugopal had granted his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against the comic artist, last week. "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.

Attorney General Grants Consent For Contempt Action Against Artist Rachita Taneja For Illustrative Tweets Against Supreme Court

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 Re: Prashant Bhushan & Anr. (2020), 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."

The Petitioner has urged the Top Court to take cognizance of the matter under Section 15(1)(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Rule 3 (c) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court, 1975, and initiate contempt proceedings.

He has also sought a direction to restrain Taneja from publishing contemptuous posts on social media which scandalize and undermine the authority of the Supreme Court.

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