It has taken just over two months from the time Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju took to blogging again for him to trigger a controversy. And it seems he is still only warming up.
Between May 2014, when he posted his first blog since October 2013, and Tuesday, Katju had written 74 blogs. In all of 2013 and 2012, by contrast, when he expressed an opinion on everything from the state of the Indian mind to the mind of the Indian State, he had posted a little over 70 blogs each.
While his blog on ‘How a corrupt judge continued in the Madras High Court’ has brought Parliament to a standstill, the system of selecting judges is just one of the many things that seem to be bothering the former Supreme Court judge. On January 3, 2013, he blogged about having put in place a system in the Madras High Court, while he was Chief Justice there, that could be the template for appointments to the apex court, and rued, “I was the sixth in seniority in the Supreme Court. But I regret that I was never consulted by the Chief Justice. The five senior most judges met in a highly secretive manner for deciding whom to recommend as a judge.”
In a previous, August 30, 2012, blog, he talked about a girl called Alice who tumbled down a hole to “the oath taking ceremony of the Chief Justice of Wonderland”, where the Chief Justice crowned himself. “This Chief Justice surrounded himself with worthies who were called Judges and lawyers but were really spoons (chamchas),” he wrote.
When that Chief Justice was overthrown, Katju said, the spoons faced trials “somewhat like that held at Nuremberg after the Second World War”.
Katju shows a preference for Lewis Carroll when drawing up other disaster scenarios — including rising prices and growing cases of rape — although Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland isn’t on a reading list he draws up for “young people who have asked me what they should read”. He has many suggestions (June 13, 2014), that he lists under ‘British, American, French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Norwegian, Czech, Hungarian, Chinese, Colombian, South African, Persian, Turkish, Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Urdu’ categories.
The books don’t all fall into Katju’s definition of good art, that which serves “social purpose”, or “that helps (people) in their struggle for a better life by highlighting the socio-economic problems in society (‘Only Sound and Fury in Jaipur’, February 1, 2013)”. Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons is on his reading list.
Nuremberg or not, the Nazis are often in Katju’s thoughts — when he is talking, for example, about media freedom, or about Narendra Modi “being projected by continued…