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

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”