Parliament resolution no violation of Katju's right: SC

Parliament resolution no violation of Katju's right: SC

The Supreme Court on Monday said that it does not prima facie find that the resolution passed by Parliament against former judge Justice Markandey Katju for his remarks against Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose affected his right to freedom of speech.

A three-judge bench presided over by Justice T S Thakur, however, agreed to hear Justice Katju’s plea for quashing the resolution and appointed senior advocate F S Nariman as amicus curiae to assist the court.

“Although we are of the view that the petition (by Justice Katju) does not disclose any violation of his fundamental right to freedom of speech, he says question raised by him need to be considered at length... we request Nariman and Attorney General to assist us,” the bench said.

The court passed its brief order after senior advocate Gopal Subramanium contended Parliament condemned Justice Katju without giving him an opportunity of hearing and violating Artcile 14, (equality), 21 (life and liberty) and 19(1)(A) (freedom of speech) of the Constitution. It caused imputation on image of Justice Katju, he contended.

In his plea, Katju, who described Gandhi and Bose as British and Japanese agents respectively in his blog on March 10, contended that his comments made as private person were academic in nature and manifestation of scientific temper.

“Just as you have a right to say, somebody has a right to disagree with you. How can you say that condemnation amounted to defamation,” the bench asked the counsel, who claimed that passing the resolution through the institutional set up was against the basis canons of justice.

“You (Katju) describe Gandhi as British agent.... As Justice Katju is authorised to express his views, country is also entitled to its own views. If you make your views public, you must be ready for condemnation, disagreement and criticism,” the bench, also comprising Justices V Gopala Gowda and R Banumathi told the counsel.

Subramanium, however, contended the resolutions passed on March 11 and 12 were not in accordance with the procedures and rules of business. He defended Justice Katju’s remarks saying many historians agreed with his assertion.

“What is the effect of the resolution? Does it prevent you from making further statements or repeating the same thing? Does it prevent you from exercising your right to freedom of speech,” the court asked the counsel.

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