NEW DELHI: Retired Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju on Monday approached the apex court, seeking to quash the Parliament resolutions passed against him for calling Mahatma Gandhi “a British agent” and Subhas Chandra Bose “a Japanese agent”, and demanded that he be given a hearing.
The former judge, in a Facebook post, alleged that the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha condemned him on March 11 and March 12 respectively without even giving him a hearing and that both Houses had no right to take cognisance of a private person’s actions.
“It is a basic principle of natural justice that no one should be condemned unheard. But paying scant regard to this principle, the Honourable members of both Houses of the Indian Parliament all flocked together with one voice to condemn me, like the Queen of Hearts in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ who would say ‘Off with his head! even before she would give a hearing to someone..,” Justice Katju wrote in his post.
“Parliament (Respondent No.1 and Respondent No.2) lacks the competence and authority to pass the impugned resolutions condemning the act of the petitioner, who is a private person.
“Respondent No.1 and Respondent No.2 are not competent to take cognisance of the expressions of free speech of the private person like the petitioner, as the power under Rule 171 of the Lok Sabha Rules provides that the resolution must relate to [an] act of [the] Government. Thus the Impugned Resolution do[es] not fulfill the jurisdictional requirement, and the necessary jurisdictional facts are lacking,” he added.
Justice Katju also sought a direction to the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Chairman of the Upper House that he be heard personally or through a lawyer. He also said that senior lawyer Gopal Subramaniam would represent him. The plea also explained the rationale behind the controversial posts, saying: “The post in respect of Gandhiji made the point that by constantly using religious symbolism in politics for several decades, Gandhiji, in effect, furthered the British policy of divide and rule by alienating the Muslim population away from the national movement.
“The post in respect of Bose made the point that through his actions knowingly or unknowingly, he ended up perpetuating Japanese imperial interest in the Indian sub-continent.”