Friday, November 18, 2016



[Published in Livelaw]

Notice issued for his blog, in which he allegedly used intemperate language against judges of the apex court.

"Don't give me threats, Mr. Gogoi. Don't try to be funny with me," former judge Markandey Katju shouted out loud as a Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued him contempt of court notice for his remarks made in his Facebook blogs.

Dressed in a dark blue suit and red tie, Justice Katju protested at the Bench as he firmly gripped the folded photocopies of his blogs Justice Gogoi had just handed over to him to read.

The courtroom was the very one Justice Katju had once held sway and dispensed justice.

He had come on an invite from the Bench to debate the several "fundamental flaws" he claimed Justice Gogoi's Bench had committed by sparing a condemned man the noose in the sensational Soumya murder and rape case in Kerala.

Trouble started immediately after the Bench dismissed the review petitions in the Soumya case. The court had already heard Justice Katju's submissions against the September 15 judgment of the court which acquitted the convict, Govindaswamy, of murder and set aside his death penalty.

After dictating the dismissal order, Justice Gogoi asked Justice Katju, who was sitting in the front row, to get up.

Then the judge handed over photocopies of the blogs to both Justice Katju and Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi to read.

As soon as Justice Katju took a cursory glance at them, Justice Gogoi asked him what he had to say.

"This is a free country. I have a right to say what I want," Justice Katju replied.

The photocopies contained certain underlined portions. Justice Gogoi then asked Mr. Rohatgi to give his opinion on the underlined portions.

"They are scandalous," Mr. Rohatgi reacted.

"Well, we are issuing contempt notice agains Jusrice Katju," Justice Gogoi said.

Justice Gogoi said the underlined portions were personal remarks made against the judges on the Bench and not an opinion on the Soumya case judgment.

At this moment, Justice Katju intervened and addressed Justice Gogoi: "First learn to be modest. This is not the way Supreme Court judges should behave. Don't provoke me."

"You are provoking us... Is there nobody here who will escort Justice Katju out of this courtroom?" Justice Gogoi said as the security personnel homed in on the retired judge.

Lawyers in the courtroom started chanting "wrong, wrong, wrong".

"I came here on your invite and I am sorry it has come to this," Justice Katju said.

"We are sorry too," Justice Gogoi said before passing a short order initiating contempt action against the former Supreme Court judge.


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