Skip to main content

Katju approaches apex court: Parliament resolutions condeming critique of Gandhi, Bose "infringe" academic freedom

Counterview Desk
Justice Markandey Katju, former chairman, Press Council of India and ex-Supreme Court judge, has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha resolutions condemning his Facebook posts which had called Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhas Bose British and Japanese agents, respectively. He has filed the petition through senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam, as he is abroad.
The petition, a copy of which Katju has posted on his blog, says that the resolution condemning him has caused "grave and irreparable harm" to his reputation and life’s endeavour to "uphold the Constitution and the rule of law".
It adds, though he addressed a representation via email to the speaker and the chairman of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on March 23, 2015, saying he was denied a hearing, he "received no response thereto."
Hence, Katju says, he had "no other alternative" except to go in for an "instant" writ petition. "At the time the resolutions were passed", the petition says, he was not physically present in India, and "has not returned to India as of the date of filing of this petition and therefore the affidavit in support of this petition is being filed by the Petitioner’s next friend present in India".
Claiming whatever he had said on his Facebook posts on Gandhi and Bose on March 10, was part of his "keen interest in academics", Katju repeated what he said. Thus, Gandhiji "constantly using religious symbolism in politics for several decades", which "in effect furthered the British policy of divide and rule by alienating the Muslim population of the Indian sub-continent away from the national movement", Katju says, adding, as for Netaji, through his actions, "he ended up perpetuating Japanese imperial interest in the Indian sub-continent."
Saying that the statements, as a private person, "are academic in nature and are in fact a manifestation of scientific temper of a citizen", Katju, interestingly, qoutes from Jawaharlal Nehru's "Discovery of India" in his favour. Nehru, in the book, had talked about the need for "search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on preconceived theory..."
Insisting that "inculcation of scientific temper has since been included as a fundamental duty in Article 51-A (h) -- “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform” -- Katju quotes the Constitution of South Africa (1997) which explicitly provides that "everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes.... academic freedom and freedom of scientific research." 
He adds, "This to be read along with Article 51-A (h) of the Constitution of India, which embodies similar foundational values."
According to Katju, "Academic freedom to explore significant and controversial questions is an essential precondition to fulfil the mission of educating and advancing knowledge. Academic freedom is necessary not only for faculty members in formal teaching setup but is also necessary for every citizen pursuing spirit of inquiry so that he or she can contribute to the society."
He adds, "The clash of competing ideas is an important catalyst, not only for the expansion of knowledge but also in development of independent critical judgment. Academic freedom encourages new knowledge, different perspectives, competing ideas, and alternative claims of truth, and therefore, to straightaway condemn a person reaching an alternative conclusion on the basis of his personal study is constitutionally impermissible."

Comments

TRENDING

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.