Justice Katju Shows Flaws In Judges Appointment System: Harish Salve
Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer
Eminent Jurist Harish Salve is a staunch critic of the Collegium system of appointment of Judges. Justice Katju’s recent controversial comments on Katrina “Sheila Ki Jawani” Kaif and Shazia “More beautiful than Kiran Bedi” Ilmi have raised Harish Salve’s hackles and he cites it as an example of the ills of the present system
On an earlier occasion, when Justice Markandey Katju made sensational revelations about the appointment of an alleged corrupt judge by Chief Justice Lahoti at the alleged behest of the PMO, Harish Salve wrote an article in India Today in which he caustically observed:
“Justice Markandey Katju was always “different”. Sobriety and discretion were as alien to him as vegetarianism to a leopard. Blogger Katju continues in the same vein. This time, he has created seismic reverberations in our hallowed community of black robes.”
Justice Katju has lived up to his reputation. On 13th January 2015, he wrote a piece on his blog suggesting that Katrina Kaif, the popular Bollywood actress, should be made the next President of India “but on the condition that she sings ‘Sheela ki Jawaani’ on her Inaugural!”
The piece appears to have been written as a satirical joke that as the politicians do nothing in any case, it is better to elect a beautiful face to a political post.
However, given that the comment came from a person who held such a distinguished position, Justice Katju was severely attacked by all luminaries in the media for making “extremely derogatory” and “sexist” remarks. Some called the learned judge “mentally deranged”.
However, Justice Katju was not cowed down by the criticism. He launched a spirited counter attack in which he called the attackers “donkeys” and “barking (dogs)”. “If a donkey kicks you, do you kick it back?” he asked rhetorically, quoting Mirza Ghalib.
Later, as if to add fuel to fire, Justice Katju tweeted:
“I regard Shazia Ilmi much more beautiful than Kiran Bedi. If Shazia had been made their C.M. candidate BJP wud have definitely won the Delhi … People vote for beautiful faces, as in Croatia. Even a person like me who does not vote wud have voted for Shazia”.
Sonia Singh of NDTV was so stunned for words that she could only retort with a “Whaat!!“. When this raised a firestorm of protest with some publications slamming Justice Katju for “ridiculous statements”, Justice Katju again took shelter behind Mirza Ghalib by quoting “Ishq ne Ghalib nikamma bana diya Varna hum bhi admi the kaam ke“.
Harish Salve appears to have got fed up with Justice Katju’s penchant for making such frivolous statements. He shot off a tweet stating:
“Seeing mr@justice katju’s blog on shazia ilmi should close the debate on the need to replace the system for appointment of judges”.
Harish Salve’s criticism of Justice Katju is not unexpected given that he has always maintained that “The selection of a judge requires finding a person learned in the laws, who has the lifestyle of a near-hermit, the character of a saint, and the humility of a student of law”. At least some of the requirements stipulated by Harish Salve for judgeship such as “lifestyle of a hermit” and “character of a saint” may not be met by Justice Katju
Now, we have to wait for a counter response from Justice Katju to Harish Salve’s comment.