SC dismisses Katju’s plea against parliamentary resolution

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea by Justice Markandey Katju (retd) challenging a resolution passed by Parliament deploring his remarks against Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Dismissing the plea by the former top court judge, a bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said that the”freedom of speech in Parliament” is absolute and unfettered and subject only to such of the provisions of the Constitution which relate to regulation of procedure in Parliament.

The Parliament had condemned Justice Katju for calling Gandhi a British agent and Bose a Japanese agent

Justice Katju had contended that parliament condemned him without giving him a hearing.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Lalit said: “It is not as if any action was deliberately undertaken or sanction was issued against the petitioner (Justice Katju). The petitioner (Justice Katju) in exercise of his right under Article 19(a) made certain statements concerning two famous personalities.”

“We are not for a moment suggesting that he could not or ought not to have made those statements. He is entitled to his views and put those views in public domain for consumption of public in general.

“The response by both Houses of Parliament was also natural in that the Resolutions in question dealt with his statements in public domain. All that the resolutions did was to condemn his remarks and did not refer to the conduct or character of the petitioner.”

It further noted that that the remarks made by Justice Katju regarding Gandhi and Bose, which were in public domain, were “touching subject of general public interest and as such could well be discussed in the Houses”.

The Rajya Sabha by a resolution passed on March 11, 2015 said: “This House expresses its unequivocal condemnation of the recent remarks of the former judge of the Supreme Court, Shri Justice Markandey Katju, against the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army for the freedom of the country.”

Next day on March 12, 2015, Lok Sabha by another resolution condemned Justice Katju.

The resolution read “Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Shri Subhash Chandra Bose both are venerated by the entire country. The contribution of these two great personalities to the freedom struggle of the country and their dedication is unparalleled. The statement given by the former Judge of Supreme Court and former Chairman of Press Council of India Shri Markandey Katju is deplorable. This House unequivocally condemns the statement given by former Judge of Supreme Court Shri Markandey Katju unanimously.”

However, the court rejected the Centre’s plea that Justice Katju’s petition was not maintainable.