Katju disapproves initiation of contempt proceedings against Mamata

Press Council of India chairperson Markandey Katju, who recently slammed Mamata Banerjee for the arrest of a farmer asking her a question, has disapproved initiation of contempt proceedings against the West Bengal Chief Minister for her remarks against judiciary. He felt there was nothing 'original' in her statement as former Chief Justice S.P. Bharucha and several other judges have also talked about corruption in judiciary.

"Yes", he said when asked if he believed that judiciary will be well advised not to undertake contempt proceedings as it would then open a can of worms.

"The only time I take contempt proceedings is when somebody jumps to my dais and picks up my file and runs away with it. Then I will not be able to decide the case," Katju told Karan Thapar in the 'Last Word" show on CNN-IBN. He felt Mamata's comments that judgements can be bought was a reaction to former judges like him and former Supreme Court judge Ashok Ganguly, who as the head of the State Human Rights Commission had passed a judgement awarding Rs 50,000 to a professor of Jadavpur University.

Katju had recently criticised Mamata as being dictatorial, arrogant, whimsical following the arrest of a farmer in West Midnapore for asking her a question during a rally. Ruling out suggestions that all judges are corrupt, he however noted, "if she meant that some judges are corrupt, it is true. It is true that corruption has seeped in judiciary which is unfortunate. But, of course, there are many upright judges also."

Candid in his views, Katju slammed the creation of a collegium system for appointment of judges, describing it "illegal and unconstitutional" when there is no mention of such a system in the Constitution.

The PCI Chairman said this when his attention was drawn to Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia cautioning the government on Independence Day against tinkering with the independence of judiciary.

"Is it for the judges to amend the Constitution or for Parliament to amend the Constitution? Can judges do whatever they like? Should they not be restrained?", Katju wondered.

Katju said he could give many examples where the Supreme Court has been playing the role of legislative by taking over the function of the Parliament or executive which was "totally unwarranted".

"It is illegal and unconstitutional by amending Article 124. How can you (the Supreme Court) do it? You must have some modesty and humility. I am sorry, sometimes the Supreme Court utterly lacks in modesty and think they are emperors...does it not know its limits under the Constitution?", he said.

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