Vande Mataram

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Scent of a retired Judge

Mr.Justice Markandey Katju, the Chariman of the Press Council of India, is known for his legal acumen and out spoken nature. He is famous for his open mouth comment in the open court aimed at senior counsel P.P. Rao. He has been writing many articles some of those make good sense and many of those go otherwise. Of late, Justice Katju seems to have a gross contempt for his fellow countrymen and is very much open mouthed in his criticism.

He was forced on the back foot by couple of law students who had sent him notices and finally Mr. Justice apologized. This seems to have angered him more and he vented out his anger when many of these "idiots" started supporting the person who displays leadership, courage and has the capability to transform the society from feud centric mentality to growth centric mentality, Mr. Narendra Modi. This anger, as stated by Justice Katju, is an out come of a chat the learned Justice had with a businessman who is said to have told the retired Judge that the problem creators are shown their place and now growth is the modus vivendi in Gujarat.

Hence this conversation, Mr.Justice Katju laments so forcefully that people are hyping growth and development without realizing the true sense of those words. In the words of Justice Katju during his speech delivered on 7th of March 2009 at the Kalidas Ghalib Foundation, "Now the worker, apart from being a producer, is also a consumer. Of course a worker in a steel factory does not consume steel. But he and his family consume food, clothes, shoes and various other articles. When he becomes unemployed his purchasing power becomes drastically reduced. And when unemployment is generated on a large scale, the market correspondingly contracts on a large scale. Hence, while production increases sales decrease, and this leads to a recession. The problem, therefore, is not how to increase production, but how to increase the purchasing power of the masses. But the goods produced have to be sold, and how can they be sold when the people are poor or unemployed, and thus have very little purchasing power?"

On that line, Gujarat has an unemployment rate of 1% comparing to the national average of 3.8%. Hence by the logic of the learned Judge, Gujarat's population has more purchasing power than the rest of India and thus the economic activities are facing no serious challenges as outlined in the above mentioned speech. The State has surplus power comparing to the rest of the nation. No grid outage for days due to over consumptions of very limited resources like the Northern India power grid. Not like Tamil Nadu's case of couple of hours of power supply in a day and chaotic in the future outlook. Gujarat ranks 15th in the prosperity index next to Germany whereas the the whole nation is at some 100s. Not a national pride, but  Gujarat can be proud of this.

Well, with regards to your concern of the state of Muslims in the State of Gujarat, they are better off compared to other States. This can be proved with one fact that more number of Muslims languish in the Maharashtra jails, with law suits against them pending finalization for decades, than in Gujarat. Due diligence brings out the fact that anything negative in Gujarat about Muslims are given a hyper hype, but the same in other States are not even whispered. Why so? As Chairman of the PCI it is under your jurisdiction, Sir, to inquire and let the nation know of the facts. But the lamentable state of affairs now is that your learned self is getting carried on with the attitude of the media to say loudly enough what many people are pleased to hear, than even murmuring the truth.

The comparison of Kristallnacht to Gujarat 2002 riots is fundamentally flawed, flippant in logic and furious in rhetoric. Kristallnacht was a premeditated exercise and the killing of Ernst Vom Rath was used as a reason to carry out a genuine and dramatic pogrom  on a large scale. (Goerg Landauer to Martin Rosenbluth, 8 February 1938, cited in Friedländer,) But none of that sort of plan was present in Gujarat nor has been proved in any court of law, neither had been mentioned in any intelligence communications. Also, the learned Judge has taken refuge under the rule of sub judice, after thoroughly deliberating the matter. The learned Judge has said in the article that he was not going to comment on the Judiciary on the fact that Modi is not convicted by any court of law for any wrong doings during the 2002 riots, but also he would not be buying the argument that Modi is not guilty. This sends out a message to the society that a retired judge is not comfortable with the functioning of his own brethren in the robes.

This stand is in stark contrast to the judgement passed by Mr. Justice Katju in the Rama Muthuramalingam v. Dy.S.P, AIR 2005 Madras 1, in which he emphasized judicial restraint and the impropriety of the judiciary encroaching into the legislative or executive domain. Can the Press Council, a quasi judicial body, encroach into the thought process of the judiciary? Why not go to the Supreme Court and file a review on behalf of the PCI to submit the facts and help the judiciary do a better job in delivering justice, rather than lamenting aloud in media commenting on the cases sub judice, and openly refraining from 'commenting' on the judiciary as if something is there to comment about? Justice Karju reiterated the judicial restraint in another judgement he had delivered as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India (Divisional Manager, Aravali Golf Club v. Chander Hass).

What about the fate of the Kashmiri Pandits and the brutally murdered Sikhs? The Pandits are living as refugees in their own nation and your honour is lecturing on India belonging to multiple communities. In that case, why were the Pandits allowed flee the state in the late 1980s and 1990s? Why can't they have their rightful place in Kashmir? Has it ever struck your esteemed conscience that this is a gross injustice to the community of Pandits? There could be two reasons for your silence on that matter. Either you don't care or your shying away to speak for your own community which may pose your esteemed self as a lobbyist. I trust that the latter could be the reason, but with the Prime Minister apologizing on behalf of the Government for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, may I beseech your learned self to take up the cause of Pandits too?

I don't want to hit hard by referring to a couple of facts which would be difficult for Justice Katju to adopt in any similar situation.

  • The learned Judge Katju apologized in the court after being accused of bias for his beard and burqua comment, fit to have been passed off as obiter dicta, in the Nirmala Convent vs. Mohd Salim  July 2009 SCI, case. 
  • Justice Katju was generous enough to plead with the Prime Minister of India in his personal capacity that a murderer of Pakistani origin may be released pending legal conclusion of the case, considering his age. The learned Judge did not bother to give a reason apart from age, under which consideration most of the prisoners in the world can be released. 
  • Justice Katju was mum with a zippered mouth when Akbaruddin Owaisi sought the Police to be off duty to kill 1 billion people. 

While serving as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice Katju spoke about the judges initiating "contempt of court" proceedings and emphasized that the authority of the judges rested on the public confidence and not in any contempt law. With the hope that the learned judge has lived by his words of having authority upon the public confidence, is he not abusing the authority now by appealing to them not to vote for a person based on selective facts and figures? Is it not a contempt to the confidence of the people upon which the authority of the judges rest?

May it please the retired judge, to reconsider what he has written since it appears that he has written it with vehement hatred, which is not good for the image of the judiciary nor the press council or the learned self of Justice Katju. That is it, Sir! I conclude.

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