Conduct of Justice Katju (Retd.) in Supreme Court and Contempt notice

By: Parmanand Pandey, Advocate Supreme Court

Anybody, who has seen Justice Katju on the Supreme Court bench and has been following his writings in newspapers and blogs after his retirement would hardly have any doubt that he often goes berserk, unreasonable and facetious. The recent example is his offer to Pakistan of giving Kashmir along with Bihar. Very recently he made the most scandalous statement about the IQ and scholarship of all Supreme Court Judges except the two. Therefore, the contempt notice issued against him is well deserved and Justice Gogoi needs to be complemented for this bold decision. It is true that one can severely criticise the judgments and there will be no contempt of the court but once motives are attributed to the judges, it becomes the contempt of the court. And who should know better than Justice Katju? But regrettably, more often than not, he ends up criticising the judges rather than their judgements.

I was also present in the Courtroom no.6 yesterday from 2 P.M to 4.15 P.M till the Court rose after dictating the order of issuing the contempt notice to Justice Katju. The arrogance and sarcasm of Justice Katju was resonating from every sentence of his address to the Court, when he tried to give more importance to the ‘common sense’ over the ‘codified Criminal law’ and well defined sections 6 and 113 of the Evidence act. He over emphasised on the ‘believability’ arising out of the ‘common sense’ than the ‘admissibility of evidence’. Justice Katju was adamant on the application of common sense even when Justice U.U.Lalit tried to drive his point home that in the absence of admissibility the Supreme Court cannot conjure up the reliability. Belying all my hopes, there was no novelty in the arguments of justice Katju. In fact, it was an uninspiring piece of banality devoid of any spark of brilliance.  

The conduct of Justice Katju even when he was on the Bench of the Supreme Court was unbecoming to the exalted post that he held. He used to make fun of even the respected Senior Lawyers of the bar.  The bench is supposed to be respectful to any lawyer, even if he or she is new to the profession, but Justice Katju used to get sadistic pleasure in misbehaving with the Lawyers. That apart, Justice Katju had been most erratic, arbitrary, unreasonable and the worst violator of Judicial discipline as a judge. He has himself admitted in a blog post that as the Judge of Allahabad High Court he used to grant bail invariably to all Pakistani Nationals, who were to be deported by the government for overstaying in India. He has self-confessed that he used to grant interim relief with view to helping Pakistani citizens so that they could stay in India either till their death or become so old that Government would not repatriate them on the humane ground. Can there be anything more ridiculous and inexcusable act on the part of a judge who has taken the oath of the Constitution of India? Obviously, Justice Katju considers himself to be a law onto himself and conveniently forgets even the Constitution of India if it comes into his whimsical path.

 Not long ago, Justice Katju unilaterally branded Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as the agents of British Government. His baseless assertions about of two iconic figures of India’s freedom movement left millions of countrymen into daze and utter shock. He did not give any proof in support of his wild opinion against these legendary persons. When the Indian Parliament unanimously passed a resolution condemning Justice Katju, he filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court of India alleging that his Fundamental Rights of ‘free speech and expression’ have been trampled upon because the Indian Parliament never gave him any opportunity of hearing before passing resolution against him. Incidentally, when this Writ Petition was being argued by the senior lawyer Gopal Subramanian in the Court of Justice T.S Thakur (as he was not a CJI then), I was also present in the Court to conduct my own case, I found that Justice Thakur was at his courteous best but he was very firm in sending a message to Justice Katju that he (Justice) cannot have unbridled freedom of speech and expression. Look at temerity and absurdity of Justice Katju that he wants to demean Gandhi and Bose in the name of his right of freedom of speech and expression but has no compunction in denying the same rights to others even to the Members of Parliament. Even yesterday, during the review- hearing of the Saumaya’ case Justice Gogoi always addressed with honorific Justice Katju but it was not returned to him with same respect from Katju Saheb. So much so, that he wanted to impress upon with the ludicrous logic of being once senior to Justice Gogoi in the Supreme Court.

As far his judgements are concerned, particularly on the labour laws, are like nightmares. His understanding of labour laws was/is shallow and highly retrogressive. The sooner they are set aside the better for the working class of the country.

Anyway, let us see how he replies to the Contempt notice.

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