In an unprecedented action, the Supreme Court today issued notice of contempt to its former judge Markandey Katju for using “intemperate” language and “scandalising” judiciary as he appeared before a bench and had heated exchanges with it.
A bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi, P C Pant and U U Lalit said Katju’s statement in a recent blog constituted a serious assault on judges and not on the judgement and therefore the notice of contempt to him.
Katju protested against the decision saying the judges were threatening him and it was not proper for them to behave in such manner with a former judge of the apex court.
“I am not scared of it. Don’t give me threat,” the former judge remarked as Justice Gogoi pronounced the order in a surcharged atmosphere.
Justice Gogoi warned him saying “don’t provoke us any more” to which Katju said “you are provoking me by this type of threat. You requested me to come here and assist you.”
At this point, Justice Gogoi asked, “is there somebody to escort Justice Katju (out)”. Katju replied, “What is this behaviour. On your request I came here. Is this the way I am to be treated.”
However, the Bench continued with the dictation of the order saying that prima facie the statement (of Katju) constituted a serious assault on judges and not on judgement.
Therefore a notice of contempt.”
The issue of contempt was raised after the bench had dismissed the review petitions filed by Kerala government and mother of Soumya challenging the acquittal of the convict of the murder charge.
Justice Katju was summoned as he in his blog had claimed that there was error in the judgement acquitting the accused for the murder and he was asked to assist the bench during the hearing of the review petition.
Addressing Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Katju said a Supreme Court judge should not behave like this and it was like a threat to him.
“Don’t try to be funny with me. I came on your request.
Don’t treat me like this,” he said after Justice Ranjan Gogoi pronounced the order as to why a contempt proceeding be not initiated against him for scandalising the judiciary.
Justice Markandey Katju, summoned by the Supreme Court to explain his criticism of the Soumya case verdict, has said he was ready to do so but wanted the apex court to consider whether Article 124(7) of the Constitution barred him from appearing before it.
The Supreme Court had two days ago summoned Katju to appear in person before it to point out the “fundamental flaws”, as claimed by him in the sensational Soumya rape case.
In a Facebook post, the former apex court judge said “I would be delighted to appear and discuss the matter in open court, but would only like the judges to consider whether, being a former Supreme Court judge, I am debarred from appearing by Article 124(7) of the Constitution. If the judges hold that it does not debar me, I would be happy to appear and place my views.”
Article 124 deals with the establishment and constitution of the Supreme Court and its clause 7 says “No person who has held office as a Judge of the Supreme Court shall plead or act in any court or before any authority within the territory of India”.
In his latest post, Katju also said he was preparing his detailed response which would also be uploaded on his Facebook page.
“I have yet to receive the notice from the Supreme Court in the Soumya case, though I have been informally informed about it by the advocate on record of the Kerala Govt.,” the former judge added.
A Thrissur trial court had awarded Govindachamy the death sentence for raping 23-year-old Soumya on February 1, 2011, after pushing her out of a running train in Kerala. The death sentence was confirmed by the high court. The apex court had commuted to life the death penalty awarded to the convict.
In an earlier Facebook post, Katju had criticised the apex court saying it had grievously erred by not holding the convict guilty of murder and its judgement needed to be reviewed.
“It is regrettable that the Court has not read section 300 carefully. The judgment needs to be reviewed in an open court hearing,” Katju had said in his post.
An apex court bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and U U Lalit had on October 17 said, “We issue notice to Justice Markandey Katju, former judge of this Court and request him to appear in Court in person and participate in the proceedings on November 11…as to whether the judgment and order dated September 15 passed by this Bench…suffers from any fundamental flaw so as to require exercise of the review jurisdiction.
A court here has issued notice to retired Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju on a petition accusing him of having made “objectionable” remarks with regard to consumption of beef in his blog posts.
Additional Sessions Judge Shuchi Srivastava passed the order on the review petition of advocate Rakesh Nath Pandey, who alleged that Justice Katju has hurt the sentiments of a major section of the society by attacking the Hindu belief that the cow was sacred and seeking repeal of the laws whereby slaughtering cow has been banned in many states.
The ADJ has asked Justice Katju to file his reply by the next date of hearing on November 18.
The petition was filed by Pandey challenging an order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate whereby his prayer for directing the police to lodge an FIR against Justice Katju was turned down.
Justice Katju, who is also a former Chairman of the Press Council of India, has made a series of controversial statements on the communally sensitive issue of cow slaughter and beef ever since possession and sale of beef were made punishable with fine and five years in jail in Maharashtra in January last year.
In the wake of the Dadri lynching case of September last year wherein a 50-year-old man was beaten to death near Noida by a mob suspecting him of having slaughtered a cow and consumed its meat, Justice Katju came up with an outpouring of a number of scathing remarks.
Recently, in a Facebook post, Justice Katju wrote that he had a “danda” (stick) with which he wished to hit those who made a fuss over the issue of cow slaughter and beef.
Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Markandey Katju Monday termed the sedition charge against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi as “stupid” and demanded action against politicians and police responsible for arresting the cartoonist.
“The charges are stupid and this is not sedition. This is misuse of the state machinery. Those politicians and policemen who have made this arrest should be arrested and put on trial,” Katju told a news channel.
“This is totally unacceptable what is being done against Aseem Trivedi,” he added.
Katju said that cartoons criticising politicians are published often in a democracy and politicians must learn to be tolerant.
“This is not a dictatorship. You can’t arrest people like this. It is a criminal offence to arrest someone who has not committed a crime under the Indian Penal Code called wrongful arrest and wrongful confinement under section 342 IPC,” said Katju.
A Mumbai court Sunday remanded Trivedi, an Anna Hazare supporter and political cartoonist, to seven days police custody for drawing an allegedly derogatory sketch and uploading it on his web portal.
25-year-old Trivedi is an activist of India Against Corruption (IAC) and was picked up Saturday evening by Mumbai police following a non-bailable arrest warrant issued against him.
He is accused of uploading “ugly and obscene” matter on his web portal and for putting up objectionable banners insulting the Indian constitution during Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation here last December.
IAC too Monday demanded that Trivedi be “unconditionally released” and “the baseless charge of sedition be withdrawn instantly”.