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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta Declines Consent To Initiate Contempt Proceedings Against Justice Markandey Katju

Sparsh Upadhyay
14 Aug 2021 5:32 PM GMT
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta Declines Consent To Initiate Contempt Proceedings Against Justice Markandey Katju
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Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Friday declined to grant his consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Ex-Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju for his alleged contemptuous remarks against the Indian Legal system and the Supreme Court of India while giving a deposition in the Nirav Modi extradition case.UK Court Rejects Justice Katju's Opinion Against Indian Judiciary In...

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Friday declined to grant his consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Ex-Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju for his alleged contemptuous remarks against the Indian Legal system and the Supreme Court of India while giving a deposition in the Nirav Modi extradition case.

UK Court Rejects Justice Katju's Opinion Against Indian Judiciary In Nirav Modi Extradition Case

The request had been sought by Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava stating that Justice Katju had made contemptuous remarks against the Supreme Court of India, in a UK Court & also in the Media and that it amounted to 'deliberately and willfully scandalizing' the Supreme Court of India and thereby, lowering its authority.

It may be noted that in March 2021, the Attorney General for India KK Venugopal had recused from considering Advocate Srivastava's request seeking his consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings against him.

AG Venugopal recused from considering the request while noting that he had known Justice Katju for the last sixteen years and that he has been interacting with him ever since and therefore, it wouldn't be appropriate for him to deal with the request to initiate contempt proceedings against him.

While declining to give his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against the former judge of the Supreme Court, SG Tushar Mehta has said:

"It cannot be denied that the expressions used by Justice Katju while voicing his personal views in his evidence regarding the legal system of our nation in general and that of our highest constitutional court viz. Supreme Court of India. Our system is constitutionally and functionally independent from the executive and guarantees free, fair, neutral, transparent, and effective judicial proceedings strictly in accordance with the law and the Constitution."

However, in peculiar facts of the case, the AG said, it would be inappropriate and inexpedient to dwell much into the issues arising from the expressions used and perceptions projected by Justice Katju [Retd.] as he did so while giving his deposition as a witness before a Court of law.

It may be noted that as per Section 15 of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, in the case of criminal contempt, the Supreme Court or the High Court may take action on its own motion or on a motion made by (i) the Advocate-General, or (ii) any other person, with the consent in writing of the Advocate-General.

Importantly, while rejecting Nirav Modi's challenge to the extradition request of the Government of India in the Rs 14,000 crore PNB fraud case, a court in the United Kingdom in February 2021 discarded the opinon given by former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju regarding chances of fair trial rights being denied to the fugitive diamond merchant on account of lack of judicial independence.

Justice Katju had deposed before the UK Court as an expert witness for Modi, opposing the Government of India's plea for extradition on the ground that he was unlikely to receive a "free and fair trial in India".

The written submission filed by him in the case stated that Modi was subjected to a "media trial" in India and that in such a "hostile atmosphere", he was unlikely to receive a free and fair trial in India. The former Supreme Court judge had also deposed that the judiciary in India was highly politicized and corrupt.

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