Cutting across political divide, Rajya Sabha members today condemned former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju for calling Mahatma Gandhi a British agent and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose a Japanese one, with some even demanding action against him.
The Zero Hour saw members from opposition and treasury benches coming together to condemn Justice Katju’s remarks in his blog with the entire House later unanimously adopting a resolution by a voice vote.
“This House expresses its unequivocal condemnation of the recent remarks of the former judge of the Supreme Court, Shri Justice Markandey Katju, against the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who led the Indian National Army for the freedom of the country,” said the resolution, read out by Chairman Hamid Ansari.
Earlier, the government had agreed to bring a resolution condemning Katju’s statement, but it was decided that the resolution should come from the Chair.
Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said he shared the anguish of the members and “outrightly condemned” it.
“It is unquestionable that Gandhi probably has been the greatest citizen of India in the recent era,” he said, terming the role the Father of the Nation in freedom struggle as paramount and the single biggest contributor.
Jaitley said in addition, this also was reflective of the present system by which individuals with “this kind of mindset” get appointed as judges of the apex court. This, he said, speaks of the “weakness of the present system which we are trying to change”.
When the House met for the day, Naresh Agarwal (SP) raised the issue and was soon joined by members from across the political spectrum in condemning the reported statement.
Agarwal later demanded withdrawal of all government facilities given to Katju as a former Supreme Court judge.
S S Roy (TMC) said the resolution should also condemn Katju’s statement that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was an agent of Japan.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Cong) said the entire world should condemn it, while Sharad Yadav (JD-U) wanted a resolution condemning the person.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said if the government is unwilling to move a resolution condemning the statement, it should come from the Chair.
Karan Singh (Cong) demanded action against the former Supreme Court judge, who recently retired as the Chairman of Press Council of India, by relevant authorities.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the statement by Katju is “most condemnable” and he has no problem if the government comes out with a proper resolution.
Agreeing with Yechury, Azad said the resolution should be from Chair.
Kurien said a resolution would be drafted and the Chair would read it out.