Kunal Kamra and the Elasticity of Justice. By Avay Shukla
Why should their lordships get so infuriated by a couple of sallies targeting them – he spares no one, not even the prime minister or his pit bull anchor. Kamra belongs to a hoary tradition of court jesters – recollect Akbar and Birbal, Patch Sexton in the court of Henry VIII (who inspired Shakespeare’s fool in King Lear) – whose job was not only to amuse the king but also to remind him of a few home truths. Comedians are important sounding boards for all rulers, and our legal czars would do well to revisit history, if not the constitution. Calling the Supreme Court a joke is just a joke, your honour, unless you feel in your heart of hearts that it is more than that – that it could be a terrible truth – in which case it is not the court’s honour which is at work here, but a guilty conscience.
The question goes like this: Question: What is contempt of court? Answer: A joke.
That’s literally true in the India of today: three jokes on the Supreme Court, posted on Twitter by stand up comedian Kunal Kamra, are likely to attract contempt of court proceedings against him. That in fact is the learned advice of the Attorney General who, just a couple of days earlier, had opined that accusing a sitting SC judge of favouritism and of trying to topple a state government did not amount to contempt. It should surprise no one, of course, that in this case, the worthy concerned was a chief minister allied to the BJP.
The elasticity of justice in this country is indeed astounding, and on the same footing as the economic principle of elasticity of demand. The latter states that the higher the price of a commodity, the lower its demand; the former provides that the more influential a person is, the more benevolent the law and its gatekeepers.
Kunal Kamra is a comedian, and a good one too. It is his job to crack jokes and pull people down a peg or two. It is his constitutional right to practice this profession, and he does a better job of it than most judges do of theirs. In fact, one writer has described him as the ‘Laughing Gandhi’, for his courage to hold a mirror to the powerful, albeit with a dash of caustic humour...
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