‘Criticism of court can never be contempt’: Rohtagi defends cartoonist Rachita Taneja in contempt case in SC
‘Why has the court take cognizance of this? Foundation of the Court is much stronger,’ he submitted
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi appeared on behalf of cartoonist Rachita Taneja on Friday in the contempt of court case initiated against her by the Supreme Court.
Rohatgi argued that the Court should never have taken cognizance of the matter, stating, "Why has the court take cognizance of this? Foundation of the Court is much stronger. Criticism of court can never be contempt. She is young 25-year-old girl," as per a report carried by Bar & Bench.
He also contended that there is an adverse public perception against the Supreme Court for having heard a case against a journalist during the vacation. Rohatgi was referring to the bail plea of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, whose case was taken up during the Diwali vacation, when the Court was shut.
Interestingly, Rohatgi himself had represented Goswami in that matter.
Justice Ashok Bhushan said that he agreed that the Court's foundation is strong, but such allegations against the Court were being made frequently.
"We agree with you, but everyone is doing it now," said Justice Bhushan.
Justice MR Shah, who was also on the Bench insisted that Taneja should file her response in the matter. He said, "You file the reply. If you don't we will proceed. Better you file the reply."
Rohatgi agreed and the matter was thereafter adjourned for three weeks.
Taneja, who operates the Twitter handle @sanitarypanels, tweeted a cartoon depicting the BJP, the Supreme Court, and a reporter with the text "Tu janta nahi mera baap kaun hai" (You don't know who my father is).
Another tweet by Taneja carried the text “Arnab gets bail, real journalists get jail, independent judiciary is fail.”
Attorney General KK Venugopal received numerous request from law students and lawyers to initiate contempt against Taneja for the tweets, and eventually granted his consent for the same in December 2020.
"I am satisfied that each of the tweets with cartoons attached is in contempt of the Supreme Court of India, hence I grant my consent," the AG had said, according sanction to prosecute Taneja for contempt of court.