|Chairman, Press Council of India|
5 October 2010 – 5 October 2014
|Judge, Supreme Court of India|
10 April 2006 – 19 September 2011
|Chief Justice, Delhi High Court|
12 October 2005 – 10 April 2006
|Chief Justice, Madras High Court|
28 November 2004 – 10 October 2005
|Born||20 September 1946|
Justice Markandey Katju is the former Chairman, Press Council of India. Prior to his appointment as Chairman, Press Council of India, he served as a Judge at the Supreme Court of India. Before being elevated as a judge to Supreme Court, he had earlier served as the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Madras High Court and as acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Publications
- 4 Controversies, Criticism, and Praise
- 5 Notable Judgements and Opinions
- 6 Notes
- 7 External links
Early life and education
Markandey Katju was born on 20 September 1946 in Lucknow, India, in a Kashmiri Pandit family. He topped the merit list of the Allahabad University‘s LL.B. examination in 1967. He was awarded Honoris Causa a Doctor of Philosophy from Lal Bahadur Shastri Sanskrit University, New Delhi, for his book Mimansa Rules of Interpretation, and a Doctorate of Law fromAmity University. He is an Honorary Professor of Law at the National Law University, Delhi and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow. Katju’s background is related to law and politics. His father was S. N. Katju, formerly a Judge of the Allahabad High Court. His grandfather Dr. Kailash Nath Katju, was one of India’s leading lawyers and participated in the country’s freedom movement. Dr. K. N. Katju was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, the Governor ofWest Bengal and Odisha, as well as the Union Law, Home and Defence Minister. Katju’s uncle was B.N. Katju, the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court. The academic Tilottama Mukherji Tharoor, first wife of Shashi Tharoor, is a cousin to Katju. Her mother was the sister of Katju’s father.
Katju is married to Rupa and has two children, a son and a daughter. He has a wide range of interests, including Sanskrit, Urdu, history, philosophy, science, and sociology, aside from his interest in jurisprudence.
Katju started his law practice at the Allahabad High Court in 1970-91 specializing in Labour Law, Taxation and Writ Petitions. He has worked as Standing Counsel, Income Tax Department. He was elevated to the Bench of Allahabad High Court in 1991. He was appointed acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court in August 2004, Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November 2004 and Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in October 2005. He was elevated to the Supreme Court of India in April 2006. He retired from this position on 19 September 2011, after serving the Indian judiciary for 20 years.
His courtroom was one of the fastest in the Supreme Court disposing off 100-plus matters in a week. He is variously described as “brilliant”,”bold”,”one of the best”,”a maverick”. His strong belief in judicial restraint has been contrasted with some unconventional opinions he delivered. The contradiction may be partly explained in his own words: “A judge should restrain from challenging policy decisions in economic matters by the Government, though be an activist in cases of personal liberty.”
Katju has served as a Member, International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARIJ).
He has written several books, which include the following:
- Law in the Scientific Era
- Interpretation of Taxing Statutes
- Mimansa Rules of Interpretation
- Domestic Enquiry
- Justice with Urdu
Some of his articles and speeches are:
- Injustice to Urdu in India, published in the Tribune on 3 August 2008
- Sanskrit as a language of Science, speech delivered in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore on 13 October 2009
- Kalidas-Ghalib Academy for Mutual Understanding
- The Role of Art, Literature and Media
- Looking back at the Caste System
- The Ideal of Women’s emancipation
- Importance of Liberty and Democracy in India
- Global Economic Scenario
- The Hart-Fuller Debate by Justice Markandey Katju – Judge, Allahabad High Court
- The Role of Media in India
Controversies, Criticism, and Praise
- Addressing a seminar organised by the South Asia Media Commission, and subsequently in several articles and interviews Katju has said that “90 per cent of Indians are idiots” and “80 percent Hindus and 80 percent Muslims are communal”. He tried to justify his statement on the ground that 90% of Indians vote in elections on the basis of caste and religion and not on the merit of candidates, 90% Indians believe in astrology, etc. He later clarified his remark by saying that it was meant to awaken people to the realities of social evils like casteism, communalism in the country after two Lucknow students Tanaya and Aditya Thakur had sent him a legal notice.
- Katju has criticized Salman Rushdie, arguing that the author is over-praised.
- Commenting on a judgement given by a single judge in Allahabad High Court and in light of alleged corruption, a bench of Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra had observed that “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark’, said Shakespeare in Hamlet, and it can similarly be said something is rotten in the Allahabad High Court, as this case illustrates.” The Allahabad High Court had taken strong exception to the apex court’s remarks that “something was rotten” and there was “rampant uncle judge syndrome” in the high court, but the Supreme Court had refused to expunge the ‘rotten remark’. The Government had backed the Supreme Court in this connection.
- In May 2007, while hearing a multi-crore corruption case in the Supreme Court, Katju had made the oral observation “The law does not permit us to do it, but otherwise we would prefer to hang the corrupt”. In March 2013, Katju had said that it will take India 20 years to defeat corruption. According to Katju, the reason for corruption in India today is that Indian society is in a transitional phase. As the country was moving from a feudal society to an industrial society, the old moral code was being destroyed but the new moral code of an industrial society had not yet been put in place.
- Arun Jaitley, once a close friend, criticised Katju for selective targeting two non-Congress state governments in Gujaratand Bihar and called for his resignation as PCI chairman. Jaitley said that Katju has failed every test on which a Judge whether sitting or retired could be judged. Jaitley alleged that Katju had a political bias with respect to the burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra. Katju responded claiming that Jaitley was “twisting facts” and “talking rubbish” and advised him to quit politics. Katju claimed that it was not his report but a report of a three member committee of the Press Council of India which had prepared a report censoring the Bihar government for lack of press freedom in Bihar. Referring to Jaitley’s comment about being against giving post-retirement jobs to retired judges, Katju reminded Jaitley that a large number of post-retirement jobs had been given to judges when the NDA government was in power and when Jaitley was Law Minister. Katju also claimed that Jaitley’s accusation of Katju targeting only non-Congress governments was false since he had also targeted Congress governments in the past.
- Katju has also been critical of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for calling student Tanaya Bharadwaj a Maoist in a public discussion, for ordering the arrest of farmer Siladitya Choudhary after calling him Maoist when he had only asked her why she has not kept her pre-election promises, and for ordering the arrest of Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra for circulating a cartoon lampooning Banerjee. Other political parties including the CPM, the BJP, and the Congress had joined in the criticism of Mamata on these issues. Katju had also warned police and administrative authorities that they could face action for following ‘illegal orders’ as happened to the Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials. “The West Bengal officials should take a lesson from the Nuremberg verdict if they do not wish to suffer a similar fate,” Katju had said. Subsequently, the West Bengal Human Rights Commission had ordered Rs 50,000 compensation to be paid to Professor Mahapatra for the manner in which he was arrested and detained.
Stand on Pakistan
Katju’s views on the legitimacy of Pakistan as a nation have come under criticism in Pakistan including a former Pakistan foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmad. On several occasions Katju has said in articles and lectures that he does not recognise Pakistan as a legitimate country as the whole basis is the two nation theory and he does not accept this.Katju has also claimed that the eventual reunification of India and Pakistan is the only solution to the Kashmir issue.
Katju justified his stance in a leading Pakistani newspaper The Nation where he reiterated that only solution to the ongoing dispute is the reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh under a strong, secular, modern minded government.
Katju’s contribution to the release of fishermen arrested along the coastal areas on the border of India has earned him praise from human rights groups of Pakistan.
Allegation of Improper Compromises in the Collegium System of Appointing Judges
On 20 July 2014, Justice Katju sparked off a new controversy when on his blog he alleged that in the year 2004, a corrupt judge was given an extension and later a permanent post due to strong political backing. He wrote that he himself raised concern about the conduct of this judge and after due probe from CJI, his doubt was found to be true. However, this judge had political backing from a political party in Tamil Nadu, and this party threatened to withdraw the support to the UPA government if this corrupt judge was not given an extension. He also alleged that a prominent Congress leader arranged extension to save the UPA government.
After his blog post, several parties and social groups raised concern over political interference in posting of the judges. However some of them also questioned the timing and purpose behind this revelation.
Anti-homosexual and Mysogynist View
On 25 December 2014 Justice Katju fuelled a controversy by saying non-traditional relationship as “humbug and non-sense”. 
Reply to Critics
In an article in The Hindu newspaper, Katju has responded to the charge that as Chairman of the Press Council of India he should not comment on matters not related to the Press.
Former Assistant Solicitor General of India Amarendra Sharan has praised Katju. According to Sharan “You can criticise his views, but you can’t criticise the man. His integrity is unimpeachable.” The noted jurist Fali Nariman commented that Katju is a “a person who doesn’t merely pretend to support human rights but lives it every moment of his life.” The former editor of The Times of India, Dilip Padgaonkar, has said that Katju is “an individual whose reputation for uprightness has been consistently above board.” 
Notable Judgements and Opinions
||This section is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (September 2012)|
- In Rama Muthuramalingam v. Dy.S.P. and later in Divisional Manager, Aravali Golf Club v. Chander Hass, he emphasized on judicial restraint and the impropriety of the judiciary encroaching into the legislative or executive domain. He re-iterated this two years later, while he was a Supreme Court Judge, in the case of .
- While dealing with the issue of judges initiating “Contempt of Court” proceedings, he observed that the authority of judges rests on public confidence, and not on the power of contempt. The Indian jurist Fali S Nariman commended Katju’s view in his article “A judge above contempt” published on 5 August 2005 in the Indian Express.
- In May 2011, Katju directed Trial/High courts to award death sentences to perpetrators of “honour killings“. Honour killing is the killing of a member of a family, or social group, by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. In his judgement, Katju said that it was time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices, which were a slur on our nation.
In January 2009, while hearing a petition filed by Archbishop Raphael Cheenath about violence against Christians in Orissa, Katju observed, “We can’t tolerate persecution of religious minorities. If your government cannot control such incidents, then quit office.” The Bench directed the government to provide adequate security and compensation to the aggrieved parties.
In May 2009, Katju commented that a husband has to accept the suggestion of a wife irrespective of the fact whether it is sensible or not.
In July 2009, Katju apologised for commenting, during the hearing of a case, that students cannot insist on wearing beards as this would lead to the “Talibanisation” of India. The comment led to much controversy: Katju and Raveendran later withdrew the related order, stating “During the hearing, certain observations were made by one of us. His intentions were not to offend anyone. However, if any one’s feeling has been hurt, he apologises and expresses regret in the matter.”
In Prafull Goradia V. Union of India, a bench of the Supreme Court comprising also Katju, dismissed petitioner’s claim that Haj subsidies provided by the Government of India were unconstitutional. The Bench observed that, “the object of Article 27 is to maintain secularism, and hence we must construe it from that angle.”
Following this judgement, in the case of Md Sukur Ali Vs State of Assam, a division Bench of Katju and Justice Mishra ruled that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. “Article 21 which guarantees protection of life and personal liberty is the most important of all the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the constitution,” the apex court bench said. They further observed that, “In the absence of a counsel, for whatever reasons, the case should not be decided forthwith against the accused but in such a situation the court should appoint a counsel who is practising on the criminal side as amicus curiae and decide the case after fixing another date and hearing him,” This judgment received both national and international recognition.
Katju’s opinion in D. Velusamy vs D. Patchaiammal], delivered on 21 October 2010, relating to the maintenance of a woman in a live-in relationship, was the first time the apex court laid the legal framework for recognizing a woman’s rights in a live-in relationship.
Katju issued notices to the Centre and state governments directing them to file compliance reports on steps taken to rehabilitate sex workers in the case of Budhadev Karmaskar vs State of West Bengal. The accused had brutally murdered a sex worker and claimed leniency in his petition in the Supreme Court, citing the victim’s profession. The court dismissed the petition, stating that “prostitutes have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.” The court further observed that “This is a case of brutal murder of a sex worker. Sex workers are human beings and no one has a right to assault or murder them.” 
In a judgement delivered on 1 February 2011, Katju highlighted the malaise of land-grabbing of village community land by private and commercial entities. He noted that the purpose of village community land is community benefit like schools, playgrounds, water storage facilities etc., hence he directed the state governments to prepare schemes for eviction of illegal occupants of this land.
On 8 March 2011, Katju delivered a “landmark” judgement legalizing passive euthanasia—or withdrawal of life-support systems—for patients who are brain dead or in a permanent vegetative state, and whom doctors have lost hope of reviving even with the most advanced medical aid. The detailed process of passive euthanasia includes strict guidelines that must be met, including a case-by-case review of medical condition by a team of court-appointed doctors and prior approval of the High Court. The Judge further observed that Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, according to which attempt to suicide was a criminal offence, was archaic and needed review. He said, “A person attempts suicide in a depression, and hence he needs help, rather than punishment. We therefore recommend to Parliament to consider the feasibility of deleting Section 309 from the Indian Penal Code.” The judgement received widespread commendation as “brave”, well researched and “path breaking”
On 16 March 2010, in an unusual step, Katju appealed to Pakistan to consider granting remission to Gopal Dass, an Indian prisoner detained in the Lahore central jail for 27 years. He based this appeal on humanitarian grounds and on “The Quality of Mercy“. The supreme court bench headed by Katju noted, “We cannot give any directions to Pakistan authorities because we have no jurisdiction over them”, however it went on to quote a couplet by Faiz, “Qafas uddas hai yaaro sabaa se kuch to kaho, Kaheen to beher-i-khuda aaj zikr-i-yaar chale”, to seek mercy for Dass. Pakistan took cognizance of this appeal of the Indian court, and within a few days the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, decided to remit the remaining jail term of Gopal Das and to release him.
On 13 May 2011, a Supreme Court bench involving Katju said that fake encounters are nothing but cold-blooded brutal murders which should be treated as the rarest of rare cases and police personnel responsible for it should be awarded death sentence. The observation was made while rejecting bail to Mumbai policemen involved in the fake encounter at Nana-Nani Park at Versova. A similar observation was made while hearing the fake encounter case of an alleged gangster by Rajasthan Police on 23 October 2006.
On 17 June 2011, Katju made a personal appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to release on “humanitarian grounds” Khalil Chishty, an elderly Pakistani virologist in Indian prison since 1992. Justice Katju expressed fear that if Chishty is not released forthwith, he may die in the jail by the time his appeal is decided by the Rajasthan high court. The move did not appear to go down well with the main opposition party BJP, which found as “odd” the appeal to free 80-year-old Chishty, a murder convict. “It is odd that an SC judge is writing to the PM for securing the release of a Pakistani prisoner, even in his individual capacity,” BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said. Manmohan Singh instructed the Home Minister to examine the request of Katju. Subsequently, in February 2012, the Supreme Court acquitted Khalil Chishti of the 20-year old murder charge and allowed Chishti to return to Pakistan.
In February 2013, Katju was involved in a war of words with the BJP when over his controversial remarks on the involvement of Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat Violence. He compared the riots to the Kristallnacht opining that he did not believe that Modi didn’t have a hand in the violence. Katju’s views on the Gujarat violence echoed those of V. N. Khare, former Chief Justice of India, in an interview published in May 2004  and another interview published in March 2012  Fali Nariman had also endorsed the views of Katju on the Gujarat violence 
In March 2013, Katju appealed to the Maharashtra governor K Sankarnarayan seeking pardon for Sanjay Dutt on humanitarian grounds under Article 162 of the Constitution after the apex court had upheld his five-year sentence for having in his possession some prohibited weapons which the court held had been procured for self-defense. He had provided ten reasons for pardon on humanitarian grounds which includes personal suffrage, had to go to court, could not get bank loans, could not go abroad without court permission,his parents worked for the good of society, married and has two small children and the fact that he has already spent eighteen months in jail for this offense.
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- “Injustice to Urdu in India”. The Tribune. Retrieved2013-03-03.
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- “Kalidas-Ghalib Academy For Mutual Understanding”. Kgfindia.com. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
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- “The ideal of women’s emancipation”. The Hindu(Chennai, India). 18 February 2009.
- “Importance of liberty & democracy in India”. The Hindu (Chennai, India). 26 January 2009.
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- “The 90%”. Indian Express. 9 April 2012.
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- “Markandey Katju clarifies ‘fool’ remark, says it was made to awaken people to social evils”. India Today. 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
- “Salman Rushdie is poor, substandard writer: Justice Katju”. Times of India. 25 January 2012.
- “Supreme Court upholds “rotten” remark against Allahabad High Court”. The Hindu (Chennai, India). 10 December 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- “Justice Markandey Katju: Why his critics remind him of no longer being a judge”. The Times of India. 24 February 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- “Govt backs SC on rotten remark”. Hindustan Times. 12 December 2010.
- “Hang the corrupt, fumes Supreme Court”. Times of India. 8 May 2007.
- “It will take India 20 years to defeat corruption: Katju”.Hindustan Times. 31 March 2013.
- Jaitley, Arun. “Why Justice Markandey Katju must quit as the Chairman of the Press Council of India.”. Retrieved7 April 2013.
- “Katju and Arun trade blows”. The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 18 February 2013.
- “Katju stands firm; Congress, BJP spar”. Times of India. 18 February 2013.
- “Katju has warned Mamata as a friend, but will her eyes open?”. oneIndia news. 13 December 2012.
- “Opposition, Press Council chairman Markandey Katju attack ‘intolerant’ Mamata Banerjee”. Economic Times. 13 August 2012.
- “Mend your ways or lose power, Markandey Katju tells Mamata Banerjee”. Times of India. 29 November 2012.[dead link]
- “Katju calls Mamata ‘dictatorial, intolerant, whimsical”.DNA. 12 August 2012.
- “Zero tolerance”. Frontline. August 2012.
- “WBHRC asks govt to compensate accused in Mamata cartoon row”. Indian Express. 13 August 2012.
- “The truth about Pakistan”. The Nation. 2 March 2013.
- “Pakistan all-praise for Markandey Katju”. Indian Express. 7 March 2013.
- “90 per cent of Indians are idiots: Markandey Katju”.Indian Express. 8 December 2012. Retrieved 30 March2013.
- “Pakistan a fake country, will reunite with India one day: Katju”. Hindustan Times. 7 April 2013.
- “India-Pakistan reunification only solution to Kashmir, says Katju”. The Hindu. 8 December 2012.
- Katju, Markandey (20 July 2014). “How a corrupt Judge continued in the Madras High Court”. Satyam Bruyat.
- Katju, Markandey (21 July 2014). “How a corrupt judge continued in Madras high court”. TOI (Chennai, India).
- “Justice Markandey Katju opposes gay relationships, says women primarily a tool for procreation”. DNA. 26 December 2014.
- Katju, Markandey (27 February 2013). “Even the chairman has the freedom of speech”. The Hindu(Chennai, India).
- “Fali S Nariman praises Katju for his article critical of Modi”. The Economic Times. 2013-02-18.
- “Jurist Fali S Nariman backs Katju’s remarks”.Times of India. 2013-02-19.
- “Why Justice Katju got Arun Jaitley’s goat”. Times of India. 20 February 2013.
- Fali S. Nariman Posted: 5 August 2005 at 0000 hrs IST (2005-08-05). “A judge above contempt”. Indianexpress.com. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- “Treat ‘honour’ killings as rarest of rare cases: court”.The Hindu (Chennai, India). 10 May 2011.
- “Can’t protect minorities, then quit office: SC tells govts [India]”. The Times of India. 6 January 2009.[dead link]
- “Bow down before your wife’s ‘diktat’, SC tells husbands [India]”. The Times of India. 18 May 2009.
- Agencies. “SC judge apologises for ‘Taliban’ remarks on Muslims”. Express India. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- Wisher, Well (2011-08-20). “Prafull Goradia V. Union of India – Secular Judgment to Savor – Reader Blogs on Legally India: Uncut”. Legally India. Retrieved2013-03-03.
- “Paper Chase: India Supreme Court finds constitutional right to counsel”. JURIST. 2011-02-28. Retrieved2013-03-03.
- “SC: Don’t decide case if accused has no lawyer”. The Times Of India. 26 February 2011.
- “Sex workers also human beings, entitled to a life of dignity, says SC”. Indian Express. 2011-02-15. Retrieved2013-03-03.
- “Village common land transfer illegal: Supreme Court”.The Times Of India. 1 February 2011.
- “Aruna lives, but others can die with dignity”. The Times Of India. 8 March 2011.
- “Attempt to suicide must be decriminalized: Supreme Court”. The Times Of India. 8 March 2011.
- Venkatesan, J. (16 March 2011). “Supreme Court appeals to Pakistan to free jailed Indian”. The Hindu(Chennai, India).
- “Zardari remits jail term of Indian convict | Pakistan”. Dawn.Com. 2011-03-27. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- “Cops deserve death for fake encounters”. The Times Of India. 14 May 2011.
- “Cops behind fake encounters should be hanged, says SC”. The Times Of India. 9 August 2011.
- “SC judge urges PM to release 80-yr-old Pak murder convict, BJP finds it odd”. Times Of India. 17 June 2011.
- “Manmohan writes to Chidambaram on Pakistani prisoner”. The Hindu (Chennai, India). 20 June 2011.
- “SC acquits Pak scientist Mohammed Khalil Chishti of murder charge”. The Indian Express. 2012-12-12.
- Markandey Katju (2013-02-15). “All the perfumes of Arabia”. Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
- “I raised the image of judiciary: V.N. Khare”. The Hindu(Chennai, India). 2004-05-02.
- “I would have lodged an FIR against Narendra Modi on charges of genocide and manslaughter”. Hard News Media. March 2012.
- PTI 21 Mar 2013, 09.47PM IST (2013-03-21). “Press Council chief Markandey Katju pitches for pardon for Sanjay Dutt”. The Times of India. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
- Bhushan, Shanti (26 March 2013). “This plot needs a new ending”. The Hindu (Chennai, India).
- “Sanjay Dutt is not a terrorist, should be pardoned: Justice Katju”. Ibnlive.in.com. 2013-03-22.
- Supreme Court of India official page
- Candid Court
- Never a dull moment
- Supreme Court judges take on corruption
- A year with Justice Katju
- A Judge above contempt
- Walk the talk with Justice Katju
- Anna and the media: From compatriots to antagonists?
- Satyam Bruyat – Justice Katju’s personal blog