Jaitley calls Press Council chief biased
A war of words broke out on Sunday between Markandeya Katju and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over his article critical of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with party leader Arun Jaitley dubbing the PCI Chairman as “more Congress than the Congress” and demanding his resignation.
Katju, a retired Supreme Court judge, hit back at Mr. Jaitley accusing him of twisting facts and asked him to quit politics.
Jaitley, in a statement here, said Katju’s article in a newspaper against Mr. Modi read more like a personal tirade and wondered whether the former Supreme Court judge was trying to hold a brief for those who have been convicted in the Godhra train burning incident.
Katju had said that “there is still a mystery of what happened in Godhra” and he found it hard to believe “that Modi had no hand in 2002”, referring to the Gujarat riots.
Referring to the Press Council of India Chairman’s criticism of Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Jaitley said, “His attacks on non-Congress governments whether in West Bengal, Bihar or Gujarat seem more in the nature of thanks-giving to those who provided him with a post-retirement job.”
He took exception to Katju’s remarks that the people of the country should not make the same mistake made by the Germans in 1933. “I concede to Justice Katju the right to hold his political views, but can the occupant of a job whose functioning is quasi-judicial openly participate in political activity. His appeal is political. He appears to be more Congress than the Congress party,” Jaitley said, adding he should “either quit before actively participating in politics or be sacked.”
Katju, in turn, accused Jaitley of twisting facts and said that he had written “very strong” letters to Congress-ruled Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan over the arrest of two girls for a Facebook post after the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
The former judge of the Supreme Courtsaid he had also issued a strong statement against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh when he had told a mediaperson that he would break his camera.
“The Chairman of the Press Council discharges a statutory job. His job requires fairness, impartiality and political neutrality. Additionally a Judge, whether sitting or retired, is expected to conduct himself with sobriety, dignity and grace. He cannot be loud, crude, out-landish or behave like a megalomaniac,” Jaitley said.
- Asian Tribune -