India’s Attorney General AK Venugopal on Thursday gave his consent to a law student to initiate contempt proceedings against cartoonist Rachna Taneja. The case is based on two caricatures shared by the cartoonist on the social media handle of his comic page ‘Sanitary Panels’.
According to a Bar and Bench report, the case is based on two tweets which Taneja criticized the Supreme Court of India.
The student, Aditya Kashyap, who would initiate contempt proceedings, felt that the tweet had “an audacious attack and an insult to the institution.”
[q]What did sanitary panels tweet against SC?[/q]
[ans]The tweets were shared by Taneja in November on a social media handle by Taneja, a satirical comic panel run by Taneja, which often talks about socio-political issues and gender with cartoons. In one of the stick-figure cartoons, a caricature of television news anchor Arnab Goswami stands under the patronage of two toering sticks, one of them representing the BJP while the other representing the SC. The legend on the cartoon reads, “You don’t know who my father is“(You don’t know who my father is).
In another tweet, the artists referred to the Supreme Court of India as the “Federal Court of India”. Both cartoons were shared when the SC granted bail to Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, who was arrested by the Mahatra police in 2014 for abetment to suicide. At that time, many people criticized SC for granting bail to Goswami, while many other social and political activists, students, teachers are currently waiting.
[q]Why is Aditya Kashyap filing contempt proceedings against the sanitary panels?[/q]
[ans]Kashyap has said that tweets posted by Sanitary Panels founder Taneja were disrespectful to SC. The first tweet stated that the SC was biased to the BJP, thus assuming that the apex court was not an independent and impartial body – an essential quality of the Indian judiciary.
The second tweet, in Kashyap’s tone, also indicated that SC was no longer “an impartial part of the state”. These implications, Kashyap felt, were wrong and “dangerous”.[/ans]
[q]What is sanitary panels?[/q]
[ans]Sanitary Panels started as a webcomic which started in 2014. Feminist webcomic commentaries on culture, society and politics and making viral comics on burning issues of the country. These include critics of government, political parties, political leaders of institutions and public figures. The comic deals with a wide range of issues including gender, religion, mental health, education, health, constitutional rights. The Sanitary Panels’ Instagram page has more than 73,000 followers.[/ans]
[q]Who is Rachna Taneja?[/q]
[ans]Rachna Taneja is the founder of Samitary Panels as well as a co-founder of the Internet Freedom Foundation, which advocates for digital privacy, net neutrality and free speech on the Internet. Taneja was born in Delhi, but currently lives in Bangalore, where she started sanitary panels. The artist, who uses stick figures for his cartoons, stated in previous interviews that he used simple sketches so that his cartoons could reach the general public. She also named her webcomic “solitary panels” because she wanted to break taboos. [/ans]
[ans]How are Indians studying for proceedings against sanitary panels?[/ans]
[ans]Social media has surfaced in support of Taneja, whose cartoons are popular among many sections of internet users, including the youth. Many people have shown solidarity for Taneja and his art.
stick figures @sanitarypanelsThe world has broken some fragile male ego. I stand with his art. 4
– Ankur Tiwari (@ankurtewari) 2 December 2020
This is sufficient contempt without being a lawyer or a journalist to join the goon squad of governance. Shame on attempts to intimidate and silence @sanitarypanels.
– Rosie Roti Service (@Suprian) 1 December 2020
To support Taneja, many fans and supporters of freedom of speech and artistic freedoms have been writing “I Stand with Sanitary Panels” on Twitter.[/ans]