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Contempt petition filed in SC against comic artist Rachita Taneja for tweets on apex court

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NEW DELHI: Having obtained the consent of Attorney General K K Venugopal, a law student has approached the Supreme Court with a petition for initiating criminal contempt proceedings against comic artist Rachita Taneja for her alleged objectionable tweets against the apex court.
The petition was filed on Saturday after the petitioner received earlier this week the written consent of the Attorney General for initiation of proceedings against her for three posts with images which are allegedly outrageous, contemptuous, carry insinuations and deliberately attribute motives to judges of Supreme Court and their judgments.
The contempt petition has been filed by law student Aditya Kashyap through advocate Namit Saxena.
Taneja’s posts, the petition said, have gone viral and have been widely shared and subscribed by people attacking the institution of judiciary. Taneja, being a social media influencer, has thousands of followers across various platforms, it said.
Saxena, who is advocate-on-record (AoR), said that the Attorney General in his written consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings, had stated that these posts are intended to denigrate the Supreme Court and lower its authority in the eyes of the public, and thus the cartoons were in contempt of the top court.
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. Criminal contempt of the Supreme Court is punishable with fine up to Rs 2,000 and imprisonment up to six months.
Recently, the Supreme Court had found lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt of court for posting two tweets and fined him Re 1 for it.
Venugopal in his consent letter to Kashyap for initiating criminal contempt proceedings against Taneja, said, “I am satisfied that each one of the tweets with the cartoons attached to them is in contempt of the Supreme Court of India, and hence I give my consent to initiate proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 in regard to each one of the tweets.
In the petition, details of the three posts and images which are allegedly derogatory and contemptuous have been mentioned.
The plea has sought direction that Taneja be restrained from publishing contemptuous posts on social media which scandalise and undermine the authority of the apex court.
The petitioner said the plea highlight three particularly outrageous and contemptuous posts that were crafted, posted and shared by Taneja through her social media handles (@sanitarypanels) on various platforms with the malicious intent of scandalising and lowering the authority of the apex court and to prejudice and interfere with the due course of judicial proceedings.
Kashyap is pursuing LLB at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law in Patiala, Punjab.

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