Justice Markandey Katju is known for his bold judgments, bold comments and criticism of government for valid reasons.
Markandey Katju is famous for his knowlege and sense humour.
Controversies, criticism, and praise Early life and education
Markandey Katju was born on 20 September 1946 in Lucknow, British 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 aDoctorate of Law from Amity 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 of West 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).
- 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 three Lucknow students Tanaya and Aditya Thakur and Shivam Yadav had sent him a legal notice.
- Katju has criticized Salman Rushdie, arguing that the author is over-praised. He said that his novel 'Satanic Verses' has deeply hurt Muslim sensitivities and that an individual's freedom of speech has to harmonised with the public interest. He also noted that Article 19(2) provides for 'reasonable restrictions' on the freedom of speech in the "interest of security of the State, public order, decency, morality, etc."
- 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