Katju plea: SC to hear case to decide on parliament’s power to punish citizens

If one put one’s views on a public domain, one had to be prepared for criticism

GN Bureau | August 3, 2015


#katju   #mahatma Gandhi   #subhas bose   #facebook  

Saying that if one put one’s views on a public domain, one had to be prepared for criticism, the supreme court today (Monday) said that prima facie it feels that there is nothing wrong in parliament passing resolution against former judge Markandey Katju. But the court would hear the case filed by Katju as through this, a debate will ensue on whether the parliament can condemn the views of a citizen.

 On March 10, Katju had made two posts on his Facebook page on Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Bose. "In the post, in respect of Gandhiji, (I) made the point that by constantly using religious symbolism in politics for decades, Gandhiji, in effect, furthered British policy of divide and rule by alienating the Muslim population of the Indian subcontinent away from the national movement. On Bose, I made the short point that through his actions, knowingly or unknowingly, he ended up perpetuating Japanese imperial interests in the Indian subcontinent."

The Rajya Sabha and The Lok Sabha had passed unanimous resolutions condemning and deploring his statement.

The court said the resolution did not violate his right to free speech and expression or in any way dent his reputation.

However, the apex court bench of justices TS Thakur, V Gopala Gowda and R Banumathi while agreeing to further hear the matter, appointed senior counsel Fali Nariman as amicus curiae as Justice Katju's counsel Gopal Subramaniam told the court that he could not have been condemned by parliament without being given an opportunity to be heard.

The apex court said that Justice Katju should be ready to face criticism for venting his opinion on a public platform.

Katju compared the action of members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in passing the resolutions in March this year to that of 'queen of hearts' in the novel 'Alice in Wonderland' who would say "off with his head" even before she would give a hearing to someone.

"It is basic principle of natural justice that no one should be condemned unheard. But paying scant regard to this principle, the members of both Houses of the Indian Parliament all flocked together with one voice to condemn me," he said in his petition prepared through former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium.

He argued that important questions of supremacy of the Indian Constitution and freedom of speech were raised, which required a debate.

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