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Published On: Sun, Aug 23rd, 2020

AG Venugopal refuses consent to initiate contempt against Swara Bhaskar

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swara 23NEW DELHI : Attorney General K K Venugopal has refused his consent for initiating criminal contempt of court proceedings against actor Swara Bhaskar for her alleged “derogatory and scandalous” statements against the Supreme Court over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case verdict.
The Attorney General’s nod is a must before filing a contempt petition in the top court. The petition had been filed by one Usha Shetty, supported by a group of lawyers. One of the lawyers involved is is Mehak Maheswari, who is also a petitioner in the complaint against Prashant Bhushan.

The lawyers of the petitioners had approached Venugopal, as consent of either Attorney General or Solicitor General is required under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, to initiate proceedings against a person
The petitioners claimed Bhasker scandalised the court while addressing a gathering called ‘Artists Against Communalism’ during the peak of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in Mumbai in February 2020.
They cited two paragraphs, the first of which quoted Bhaskar as having stated, “We are living in a country where the SC states in a judgement demolition of Babri Masjid was unlawful, and in the same judgement rewards the same people who brought down the mosque”.
“…We are now in a situation where our courts are not sure whether they believe in the constitution or not,” she continued. Referring to the first part of Swara Bhaskar’s statement, Venugopal stated that her remarks were factual.
“This does to offer any comment on the Supreme Court itself or say anything that would scandalise or tend to scandalise, or lower or tend to lower the authority of the Court. In my opinion, this statement does not constitute criminal contempt,” Venugopal said in his letter dated August 21 to one of the petitioners’ lawyer, Anuj Saxena.
Attorney General KK Venugopal said the comment was the “perception of the speaker” and did not “offer any comment on the Supreme Court itself or say anything that would scandalise or tend to scandalise… the authority of the Supreme Court”.”In my opinion, this statement does not constitute criminal contempt,” the Attorney General said.
“I do not think that this is a case where the offence of scandalising the court or lowering the authority of the court would arise. I, therefore, decline consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Swara Bhaskar,” Venugopal said.

In November last year the Supreme Court had ruled that the formerly disputed land in Ayodhya belonged to the deity Ram Lalla, or the infant Lord Ram. The court, however, also said that the razing of the 16th century Babri Masjid in December 1992 was unlawful and a “calculated act of destroying a place of public worship”.
The second comment made by Ms Bhasker, also written out in the Attorney General’s letter today, said that “we are ruled by a government that doesn’t 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…”

The comment has been seen by many as a reference to protests such as the one led by women in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The protest made international headlines with protesters agitating against the “anti-Muslim” CAA, NRC (National Register of Citizens) and NPR (National Population Register). Passed last year, the government said the CAA would help persecuted minorities from three Muslim-majority nations – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Ms Bhasker was also outspoken in her support of the student community in the national capital for their role in the protests. The actor, who is a graduate of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, praised students for “waking up the entire country”.
(With Agency Inputs ).





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