Attorney General KK Venugopal declines consent to initiate contempt against Swara Bhaskar

The Attorney General K K Venugopal has declined consent to initiate contempt proceedings against actress Swara Bhaskar for her remarks on the Ayodhya verdict delivered by the Supreme Court.

The petitioner has now approached the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for his consent to initiate contempt against Bhaskar.

A Karnataka based resident Usha Shetty had approached the AG seeking his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Bhaskar for her statements made at a panel discussion organised by non-governmental organisation Mumbai Collective in February.

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.

According to the plea, Bhasker said:

“We are living in a country where the Supreme Court of our country states in a judgment that demolition of Babri Masjid was unlawful and in the same judgment rewards the same people who brought down the mosque.

We are ruled by a government that does not believe in our Constitution we are ruled by police forces that do not believe in the Constitution it seems we are now in a situation where our courts are not sure whether they believe in the constitution or not what then do and it seems to me that as everyone has said that path is clear to us and it has been shown to us by you all whoever of you all have been part of a protest by the students by the women and by the citizens protestors it is to resist”.

In his order, AG Venugopal said that the statement in the first part appears to be factual, and is a perception of the speaker. The comment refers to the judgment of the Supreme Court and is not an attack on the institution.

“This does not offer any comment on the Supreme Court itself or say anything that would scandalize or tend to scandalize, or lower to tend to lower the authority of the Supreme court”, the AG said.

The AG, thus, held that her statement does not constitute criminal contempt.

For the second statement that “..we are now in a situation….”, the AG said it is a vague statement not related to any particular court and something which is so general that no one would take any serious note of this statement.

The AG, thus, held this was not a case where offence of scandalizing the court or lowering the authority of court would arise.

Read the AG’s Order

https://theleaflet.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/AG-Order_Swara-Bhaskar.pdf