Attorney General KK Venugopal approved the filing of criminal contempt charges against YouTuber Ajeet Bharti for allegedly making anti-Supreme Court remarks in videos posted on social platforms. On the basis of a letter sent by Pratik Kumar, a lawyer, the consent was granted under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act.
While granting consent, AG KK Venugopal stated that Bharti’s statements were vulgar, vituperative, outrageous, and gross and that they unmasked the Supreme Court of India’s authority. Before the Supreme Court can hear a criminal contempt of court petition filed by a private individual, the Attorney General must consent under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act.
Both civil and criminal contempt is defined in the Contempt of Courts Act. Criminal contempt can be invoked if an act tends to scandalise or lower the authority of the court or interferes with or obstructs the administration of justice. Civil contempt refers to willful disobedience to any court judgement, whereas criminal contempt can be invoked if an act tends to scandalise or lower the authority of the court or tends to interfere with or obstruct the administration of justice.
According to Section 5 of the Act, “fair criticism” or “fair comment” on the merits of a final decision does not constitute contempt. The determination of what is “fair” is, however, left to the judges’ interpretation.
“These statements are vulgar, vituperative, outrageous, and gross, and they will undoubtedly lower the Supreme Court of India’s authority and seriously undermine public trust in the institution. I had previously given my consent for contempt proceedings to be brought against him ” the letter reads
Court bashing is becoming a pastime for some, according to KK Venugopal. The Attorney General has now sanctioned Bharti for his alleged derogatory videos about the Supreme Court and its judges for the second time. On a request from lawyer Kritika Singh, the Attorney General approved the filing of criminal contempt of court case against Bharti for another YouTube video in September 2021.
According to reports, consent was granted under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act based on a letter sent by Pratik Kumar, a lawyer. The Attorney General has now sanctioned Bharti for his alleged derogatory video about the Supreme Court and its judges for the second time.
The Attorney General had sanctioned to initiate contempt proceedings earlier in September, alleging that a video posted on Ajeet Bharti’s media initiative DO Politics’ YouTube channel contained “scurrilous,” “vituperative,” and “highly derogatory” words against the Supreme Court and its judges.
Later in July, a law student from Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Kritika Singh, wrote to the attorney general requesting permission to file contempt charges against Ajeet Bharti. The law graduate claimed that the journalist used vile and obscene language to defame the courts’ reputation. Bharti was accused of nepotism, rampant corruption, and orchestrating protests across the country, according to the letter.
In a 108-page verdict issued in 2020, the three-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai, and Krishna Murari, JJ, found advocate Prashant guilty of criminal contempt in a suo motu contempt petition filed against him after he criticised the Supreme Court and the sitting and former CJIs in a couple of tweets.
“The tweets that are based on distorted facts, in our considered opinion, amount to criminal contempt,” it said. The Supreme Court of India is the pinnacle of the Indian legal system. An attack on the Supreme Court not only causes ordinary litigants to lose faith in the court, but it also causes other judges in the country to lose faith in it.