When Attorney General K. K. Venugopal granted consent to file contempt charges against stand-up artist Kunal Kamra for his critical tweets on the Supreme Court, everyone thought that the comedian would now go down the same path as lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
However, Kamra, who is known for his wit and criticism of the government, has taken the fight to Venugopal and the Supreme Court itself perhaps. On Friday, the stand-up comedian said that he will not retract his statements and that he will not apologise for whatever he said. Not only that, in a statement released on Twitter, he further attacked the SC for granting TV anchor Arnab Goswami bail in an abetment to suicide case.
His statement read: “Dear Judges, Mr KK Venugopal,
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. I believe I must confess I very much love holding court and enjoying a platform with a captive audience.”
Kamra further sarcastically added that “an audience of Supreme Court judges and the nation’s top most law officer is perhaps as VIP an audience”, and that “a time slot before the Supreme Court is a scarce commodity.” He was essentially referring to the fact and criticism that only a certain section of people are able to get hearings with Supreme Court benches quickly, while others have to wait for much longer (often months).
Case in point is the bail petition of Siddique Kappan, a journalist from Kerala who has been languishing in jail for over a month now. His wife said that they have not been given the permission to meet or talk to him. Raihanath, his spouse, recently told the media that he was able to briefly talk to his mother.
Kappan is a Delhi-based journalist who freelances for a Malayalam online news website. On October 5, Sidhique set out to Hathras, to report on the incident where a Dalit woman was allegedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men. Three others were travelling with him in a vehicle. However, the police in Uttar Pradesh stopped them and seized Siddique’s laptop, phone, and some literature claiming it “could impact the peace in the area”.
The cops initially alleged that they have links to the Popular Front of India (PFI), after which the Mathura police booked them under the charges of sedition and the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA. According to the FIR, there was a bigger conspiracy behind their visit to Hathras. This has however come under heavy criticism from all quarters.
“My view hasn’t changed because the silence of the Supreme Court of India on matters of other’s personal liberty cannot go uncriticised. I don’t intend to retract my tweets or apologise for them. I believe they speak for themselves. I wish to volunteer the time that would be allotted to the hearing of my petition (20 hours at the very least, if Prashant Bhushan’s hearing is anything to go by), other matters and parties who have not been as lucky and privileged as I am to jump the queue,” Kamra added.
The comedian’s statement finally added that whenever the SC “can have a small laugh before declaring” his tweets in contempt of court. Taking a shot at senior SC advocate Harish Salve earlier, he had in his tweets also said that of Mahatma Gandhi and the supreme court of India should be replaced with that of Harish Salve.
“I would like to add that Pandit Nehru photo should also be replaced with Mahesh Jethmalani,” read Kamra’s statement. It will be interesting to see the SC’s reaction to this, especially given the fact that there is actually a very obvious and selective system with regard to hearing bail petitions. And knowing Kamra, he is unlikely to bow down or apologize, like how Bhushan did.