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Supreme Court accepts Katju’s apology, drops contempt proceedings

Justice Markandey Katju attending `World Human Rights Conferece' at Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Bhawan in Sector 30 A of Chandigarh on Thursday, December 10 2015. Express photo by Jaipal Singh

Accepting its former judge Markandey Katju’s “unconditional apology”, the Supreme Court Friday dropped criminal contempt proceedings initiated against him for writing blogs that the apex court had called “an attack on the judges”.

“In view of the apology tendered, which has been verified, we close the instant contempt proceedings,” said a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Uday U Lalit.

The order was passed after senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for Justice Katju, read out the reply tendering the unconditional apology and the retired judge’s readiness to show up in the court and read it out himself if so desired. Justice Katju was earlier granted exemption from personal appearance.

On November 11, the court had issued suo motu contempt notice to its former judge — a first in the country’s judicial history — for writing blogs, which had comments on judges. Justice Katju was a Supreme Court judge between 2006 and 2011.

“Prima facie, the statements made seem to be an attack on the judges and not on the judgment. We, therefore, issue notice of contempt to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be drawn up against Justice Markandey Katju and he be appropriately dealt with,” the court order had said.

Justice Katju was issued a notice by the court in October over blogs in which he was critical of the September 15 judgment that had set aside the death penalty for the convict in the Soumya rape and murder case in Kerala.

The bench, also comprising Justices P C Pant and Uday U Lalit, had exonerated Govindachamy of the murder charge but sentenced him to life imprisonment for rape. Later, Katju, in his blogs, questioned the wisdom of the judgment and asserted that the convict was to be held culpable under the murder charge as well.

On November 11, after listening to Katju for nearly 45 minutes, the bench did not find merit in his arguments and dismissed a clutch of review petitions, seeking reconsideration of its September 15 judgment. It had then taken up Katju’s other two blogs, in which he had commented on the judges who had passed the verdict and issued a contempt notice.

Legal Desire

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