Chief Justice of the Supreme Court DY Chandrachud has withdrawn from hearing a contempt case brought against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra.
For his comments regarding a Supreme Court decision that granted bail to TV host Arnab Goswami in 2020 in a suicide case from two years earlier, Mr. Kamra is facing contempt charges.
Justice Chandrachud announced that he will not participate in the hearing for the case against Mr. Kamra because he was one of the judges who issued that order.
Anvay Naik and his mother committed suicide in 2018, and Kunal Kamra was furious that the Supreme Court had granted Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami interim bail a week after his detention.
When the journalist was detained, Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee, sitting as a two-judge panel, criticised the Maharashtra government, saying: “If we as a constitutional court do not lay down law and defend liberty, then who will?”
On social media, Kunal Kamra and Mr. Goswami have been engaged in an ongoing argument for years. He received a ban from various airlines three years ago after heckling a media figure on a flight from Mumbai to Lucknow.
Kunal Kamra did not retract his criticism of the Supreme Court decision in his tweets, claiming that “jokes are not reality and do not purport to be so.”
Jokes need no defence, and they are based on the comedian’s perception, according to Mr. Kamra, who also clarified that he didn’t post anything on Twitter with the purpose of “undermining public confidence in the judiciary.”
He did, though, state that he “disagrees with many rulings of many courts, but promises this bench that I would respect any verdict with a broad smile and will not disparage this bench or the Supreme Court in this matter because it genuinely (amounts to) contempt of court.”
The comedian stated, “I do not believe any authority, even judges, would find themselves unable to carry out their duties merely due to being the target of satire or humour.”
The government’s then top lawyer KK Venugopal swiftly approved Mr. Kamra’s prosecution, stating that the comedian’s tweets “broke the boundary between humour and contempt” and were “in foul taste.”