Congratulation, Justice Markhandey Katju. Your bold and maiden statement pleading clemency for actor Sanjay Dutt after the Supreme Court verdict of three and half years of prison term for acquiring guns illegally has evoked sharp reactions.
You acted without wasting any time and drafted a mercy petition appeal for the Governor. You followed it up by drumming up support through media and tried to justify your act in everyway possible. Your action at first glance appears worthy of an applause and appears to have been made as gesture of a Good Samaritan. But this move has evoked sharp negative responses too. Several eminent persons have expressed their reservation against your gesture. While some have questioned your authority to do so, another gentleman on the national television channel even charged you of forgetting that are you are no longer a SC judge, he accused you of behaving like one very often.
Of course the charge that your reaction is motivated by the celebrity status of Dutt was rather rudely clarified by you on the national channel and you did not even spare the anchor of the show and snubbed her in your, by now, rather well known and inimitable style of one-upmanship. You claimed that it is well known by now that you are the last one to be affected by anyone’s celebrity status and that you have always taken up the cause of the common man.
Justice Katju, here I would most humbly like to tell you that you are lying. I can quote here at least one example where you made no consideration for the so called common man and where you acted in a most insensitive, and unconcerned manner to the plight of a student. In this incident, Sir, you totally ignored all the humanitarian angle, and just conveniently chose to look the other way. I invite you Justice Katju to go back to June 2012 and revisit your conscience.
An e-mail was sent to you regarding the case of Faraz Talha, a student of class 12th of St Francis College, Lucknow. Faraz, school cricket captain along with two other boys was being stopped just two days prior to the examination from appearing in the ISC Board exams on what the school ‘claimed’ was attendance shortage. Though a court order dated 13th February 2012 the boys were allowed to write their papers while all through the examinations the hearing in the case continued.
The School and Board had engaged the best and most expensive lawyers but on 13th April the court ruled that the boys had adequate attendance and that as per the attendance register the boys were actually playing a cricket match for the school when they had been marked absent. There were eight other glaring mistakes in the attendance register, including attendance marked on Sunday. Instead of accepting the verdict and apologizing to the students and families for harassment, the School and Board went in for revision petition. Here too they lost and court passed the judgment on 1st June 2012, in the boys’ favour and ordered that the results, which had been stopped be immediately declared. The court went in for one month summer recess and the Board did not declare the results making it almost impossible for the student to proceed for further admission. The fate of the children hanged in balance.
It was at this juncture that Faraz’s aunt, Parveen Talha, former UPSC member, who knew you, and his mother sent you a mail . I quote from the mail:
“It has been a five months legal battle against the Indian School Certificate Board and St Francis School to get justice. We have won both in the single bench (13th April) and also in the SLP filed by the Council and school (order dated 1st June 2012). The court had called for the results, found them to be ‘very good” and ordered the mark sheets to be given but the Board has not complied with the order and is planning an SLP in Supreme Court. This will completely jeopardize the future of these children as any further delay will mean they not getting admission anywhere in this year. What should we do?”
The family was seeking your guidance not help, but your reply to this mail was just a one liner— short, crisp and rude:
“I regret that since it is a Court case I cannot give any advice. Please consult your lawyer.” Justice Katju
It was an insensitive, rude one liner. Your reply spoke loudly of how little you valued human beings and relationships. Your reply wiped out any scope for sympathy, or regard for the father of Faraz—late Osama Talha, leading journalist of his time who had passed away in 1995, when Faraz was just 11 months, and Ms Parveen Talha, both of whom you knew well. Of course, as PCI chairman also you failed because you could not share the pain and dilemma or express sympathy for Faraz, both of his parents being journalists.
That is why Justice Katju your sympathy for Sanjay Dutt seems misplaced. It is difficult to believe that you could be doing all this just on humanitarian ground.
After all how could a man who could not empathise with a student, a fatherless child, suddenly feel so concerned about the plight of an actor and defend him by saying he has suffered from 20 years and has two children? No, No Justice Katju something is amiss, you seem incapable of sympathy.
Faraz was an innocent 17 year when he was pushed against the wall. He was on the threshold of a bright carrier that could have been thwarted and his future prospects destroyed forever. Your insensitivity in this case was appalling. The Board took the case to SC, and the learned judge there took just seconds to reconfirm what everyone already knew— the boys were innocent and that their attendance was wrongly marked. It was a legal triumph from the highest court of justice.
It is shameful the way you, a retired SC judge have been trying to dilute the judgment of the Apex Court and demanding clemency for Sanjay Dutt. It is clear that you must be having a hidden agenda. Justice Katju, it is time for you to revisit your conscience or accept the charge that you only believe in selective justice or accept that you have a warped sense of justice. What you are doing for Sanjay maybe right, but what you did not do for Fraza was wrong.
So please, next time kindly shed that false expression of anger and voice that you use to put down anchors and media persons. Your true face is already revealed. Remember, Sir, you are no longer a SC judge and your selective outbursts are failing to have an impact but are in fact starting to backfire.