AG Declines consent to Initiate Contempt Proceedings against Swara Bhasker

The Attorney General KK Venugopal declined the contempt petition stating that Bhasker's statement is factual. It does not attack the Supreme Court, scandalise or lower its authority.

Swara Bhasker

Attorney General KK Venugopal has declined to grant consent to initiate contempt proceedings against actress Swara Bhaskar. He further stated that her remarks about the Ram Janmabhoomi judgement by Supreme Court were “not an attack on the institution”.

He has rejected an application filed by Advocate Anuj Saxena seeking sanction under Section 15 of Contempt of Courts Act 1971 read with Rule 3 of Contempt proceedings of the Supreme Court 1975, for initiating Criminal contempt proceedings against actor Ms. Swara Bhaskar.

The petitioner is Usha Shetty, who is a leader of the right-wing organisation, Virat Hindustan Sangham (VHS) Karnataka, founded by Subramaniam Swamy. The petition was filed through advocates Anuj Saxena, Prakash Sharma, and Mahek Maheshwari. Mahek Maheshwari is the advocate who filed the complaint against Prashant Bhushan. Maheshwari began his legal career at BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy’s law office and is an active member of the Virat Hindustan Sangham.

The petition alleges that Swara Bhasker scandalized the court by saying “courts are not sure if they believe in the constitution” while addressing a conference “artists against communalism” at Mumbai in February 2020.

They cited two paragraphs, the first of which quoted Bhaskar as having stated,

The plea alleged “objectionable statement” made by Bhaskar is reproduced in the petition as :

“We are living in a country where the Supreme Court of our country states that the 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 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 or not what then do we do and it seems to me that as everyone has said that path is clear to its and it has been shown to us by you all whoever of you all have been part of the protest by the students by the women and by the citizen protestors it is to resist”

The petition alleges that her statements were not only a “cheap stunt of publicity” but also a deliberate attempt to turn masses to revolt against the Supreme Court.

“The alleged contemnor statements intends to incite feeling of no-confidence amongst the public with respect to the proceedings of the Hon’ble Court and integrity of the Hon’ble Judges of the Apex Court of India”, states the Petition filed by Adv. Anuj Saxena, Prakash Sharma & Mahek Maheshwari on behalf of Usha Shetty.

Referring to the first part of Bhaskar’s statement, Venugopal stated that her remarks were factual.

“The Statement in the first part appears to me a factual one and is a perception of a speaker. The comments refer to the Judgment of 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 scandalise or lower the authority of the Supreme Court”.

“The Second Statement 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. I do not think that this is a case where the offence of scandalising of Court or lowering the authority of the Court would arise”.  I, therefore, decline consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Swara Bhaskar,”. Venugopal told the petitioner’s lawyer, as reported by PTI.

Being unsatisfied with the reasons provided by the AGI the petitioner has approached the Solicitor General of India as under rule 3 (c) both Attorney General & Solicitor General can provide the consent.

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