Supreme Court dignifies Justice Katju’s Facebook post with a debate: Was it necessary?

Written by | October 18, 2016 | 0

Justice Markandey Katju’s reasons for criticising the Supreme Court (SC) judgment in the Soumya rape case may have been legitimate, but is the SC right in engaging with him by inviting him for a debate?

In the last few months, Justice Katju has attacked the Chief Justice of India (CJI), made casteist jokes, mocked Biharis and offended the people of Odisha in his Facebook posts, ending them all with an exclamatory “Hari Om“.

He had to recently apologise for a post he shared on Facebook and on his personal blogpost, ridiculing the people of Odisha. He wrote in the post:

“I was asked to write about the Oriyas (Odias). What is there to write about these poor chaps? Ever since they got a thrashing at the hands of Ashoka in the battle of Kalinga they have been a dejected lot.

Now all they have with them are a lot of pots (Patras), big pots (Mahapatra’s) and supposedly intelligent kings (Patnaik’s). And of course they have Lord Jagannath, to whom they pray every day for revenge on the abominable Biharis.”

Katju, a retired SC judge, is a passionate Facebook user. His posts in a day put together are enough to fill the edit page of a national daily. Given his standing, the views expressed by him on the social networking website often make the news, which he then happily and unfailingly shares.

You can understand when a retired judge, at leisure, engages with the world through Facebook – more often than not to put forward his unsolicited views on every issue under the sun. What is perplexing is the fact that the highest court of the land is dignifying his criticism of a judgment by inviting him for a debate.

Under normal circumstances, a common man expressing his or her unabashed criticism of a judgment that has already been decided, following due process and the procedure established by law, would have amounted to contempt of court.

Justice Katju’s criticism has, however, attracted a summon for a debate instead.

According to a report,”In an unprecedented order, the Supreme Court on Monday summoned Justice Katju to appear in person before it to point out the ‘fundamental flaws’, as claimed by him in the Soumya rape case,”

“He (Justice Katju) is a respected gentleman. We request him to come in person and debate his Facebook post criticising the judgment. Let him come to the court and let’s debate over the fundamental flaws in our verdict,” a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice UU Lalit said after issuing a notice to Justice Katju, the PTI report stated.

But, in spite of many of his posts that fall in the ‘just joking’ category, the fact remains that his legal expertise and acumen cannot be questioned and it cannot be denied that he must have had valid doubts and reasons for questioning the apex court’s judgment

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