Monday, Aug 08, 2022

Contempt Proceedings Against Comic Illustrator Rachita Taneja For Criticising Supreme Court

Taneja had posted a cartoon on the Supreme Court granting bail to Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami.

Illustrator Rachita Taneja PTI and Rachita Taneja/Facebook

Attorney General KK Venugopal has given consent to initiate proceedings against artist Rachita Taneja for her tweets over Supreme Court's ruling in Arnab Goswami's abetment to suicide case last month.

Taneja, who uses the Twitter handle @sanitarypanels, had posted a series of illustrations against the apex court that were seen as an "audacious assault and insult to the institution", the AG wrote in his letter.

Arnab Goswami was arrested over the suicide of Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018 and taken to Taloja jail. He was granted interim bail a week later by the Supreme Court. The two-judge bench constituting Justices DY Chadrachud and Indira Banerjee had rapped the Maharashtra government over the Republic TV editor's arrest, and said, "If we as a constitutional court do not lay down law and protect liberty, then who will?"

Cartoonist Rachita Taneja's illustration depicted Arnab Goswami with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Supreme Court by his side, with Goswami portrayed as saying "Tu jaanta nahi mera baap kaun hain", as if implicating that the Supreme Court is biased towards the ruling party and that "BJP is somehow interested in protecting Arnab Goswami". 

Another tweet referred to the Supreme Court as "Sanghi Court of India" was flagged as contemptuous by the top court. It carried the text "Arnab gets bail, real journalists get jail, independent judiciary is fail".

In response to the tweet, the AG said, "...carries a gross insinuation against the Apex Court of this country to the effect that the Supreme Court has ceased to be an impartial organ of the State. The tweet is clearly calculated to undermine the public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the Supreme Court of India," in his letter.

The proceedings to initiate contempt were requested by law student Aditya Kashyap in a letter to the AG. The account @sanitarypanel also posts other tweets critical of the Modi government and national policies.

Last month, the  Attorney General had given nod to initiating contempt proceedings against stand-up comic Kunal Kamra over his tweets against the apex court, calling it “grossly vulgar and obnoxious” and which tended to lower the authority of the Supreme Court.

Kamra had also criticised the Arnab Goswami ruling, one of which read, "The Supreme Court of this country is the most Supreme joke of India".

He refused to apologise for this, saying "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 don’t intend to retract my tweets or apologise for them. I believe they speak for themselves.”