Retired Justice Markandey Katju is known to rake up controversies. He has been variously described as “brilliant”, “bold”, “one of the best” and “a maverick”.
Justice Katju has been most famously quoted as having once said: “Hang them (corrupt politicians) from the nearest lamp-post”.
Recently, he also said wrote — and later was forced to apologise — that “90 per cent of Indians are fools”.
Yes, he has been all that has been described as his attributes.
And on a fine Thursday morning, readers of The Hindu saw the hon’ble justice raking up another controversy by his amateurish attempt to destroy the image of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his article ‘All The Perfumes of Arabia’ (read here).
That day, The Hindu was bombarded with letters, many protesting against the article and many supporting Justice Katju’s viewpoint.
What got many reader’s goat was also his conversation with a Gujarati businessman sitting next to him on a flight, in which the latter was all full of praise for Chief Minister Modi. Obviously, the retired did not like what he said and asked him about the killing of nearly 2,000 Muslims in 2002.
When the businessman told him that there is peace in Gujarat now, Katju told him that “this is the peace of the graveyard, and peace can never last long unless it is coupled with justice”.
Apart from that, Katju — a Kashmiri Pandit settled in Allahabad who is reportedly lobbying hard for the post of Governor of Jammu and Kashmir (read here) — also tried his level best to destroy Modi’s pro-development image by using random debatable figures to point out that Gujarat had the highest number of malnutrition cases.
Katju claims at this the businessman took offence and changed his seat.
Justice Katju also tried to equate what happened in Gujarat with the actions of the Nazis against Jews.
As a reader pointed out, “Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister despite being the leader of the party that was in power during the horrendous massacre of Sikhs in 1984. No one cited Nazi Germany even though Rajiv Gandhi reportedly said that the earth shakes when a big tree falls”.
Another reader reminded Justice Katju that all cases relating to the 2002 killings are sub judice. “His observation that he finds it “impossible to believe” that Modi did not have a hand in the 2002 Gujarat killings is unwarranted and unfair”.
Here, I find it surprising that Justice Katju failed to recognise that the courts have already convicted many for the riots, including a high-profile minister, Mayabesn Kodnani. Compare this with the riots after Indira Gandhi’s killing. All the big guns got away scot-free.
Is this not Justice Katju’s attempt to influence the courts in the remaining cases?
As Ravinar of MediaCrooks points out, what Justice Katju did was to use “matka logic” (read about it here). Katju threw all caution to the winds by saying that nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed in 2002, whereas the official number was 1044 killed and around 223 missing.
Imagine a judge using popular figures not backed by evidence, but repeatedly churned out by the anti-Modi cottage industry. The number of Muslims killed is just 790 and it is another matter that 254 Hindus were also killed, but for Justice Katju and Modi’s critics, this is a small but inconvenient truth which can just be brushed under the carpet.
In 1984, more than 3,000 Sikhs were killed, but Katju or the cottage industrialists will not talk about it because Rajiv Gandhi was a “secular” person. But Rajiv even went a step further to insult the “secular” Indian Constition in the Shah Bano case.
However, apart from that, Katju — a Kashmiri Pandit settled in Allahabad who is reportedly lobbying hard for the post of Governor of Jammu and Kashmir (read here) — also tried his level best to destroy Modi’s pro-development image by using random debatable figures to point out that Gujarat had the highest number of malnutrition cases.
Now, as Ravinar points out, the anti-Modi cottage industry which consists of “leading secular lights” such as “historian” Ramchandra Guha, “senior journalist” Aakar Patel, et al, after trying their level best discredit Modi for everything under the sun, now they are all parroting the “malnourishment” mantra.
I fail to understand that how a “brilliant”, “bold”, “one of the best” judges did not bother to take note of the evidence at hand and instead like a “maverick” used “secular” arguments just to prove his point. Apparently the good judge uses “logic” while making prouncements and then has to “explain” later, like he did in 2009 when he said that” students cannot insist on wearing beards as this would lead to the ‘Talibanisation’ of India”.
Or when he said that “90 per cent of Indians are fools”.
According to the judge’s standards, probably I too belong to that section of fools!