Sunday 29 April 2012

Justice Markandey Katju In Aamne Saamne

Interview with Anuradha Prasad of News24

Monday 23 April 2012

Ten ways of being foolish

90 per cent of Indians have an unscientific temper. The facts bear it out
After my article ‘The 90%’ was published in The Indian Express on April 4, I got a call from the Delhi correspondent of The Wall Street Journal asking me on what basis I had mentioned the figure 90 per cent when I said that 90 per cent Indians are fools. I replied that it was not a mathematical figure, what I meant was that an overwhelming number of Indians were fools. Therefore the figure might be 85 per cent, on the other hand it could be 95 per cent. Consider the following facts:
One,Tamilians are some of the finest and most intelligent among Indians. They have done the country proud in various fields — scientific research, mathematics, IT, medicine etc. In the US and Europe, the science and mathematics departments of many universities and institutes are full of Tamilian professors.
Yet Tamilians are some of the most superstitious people in India. This may sound like a paradox, but it is true, and this just shows that scientific and unscientific ideas can co-exist in the same head. When I went to Chennai to take oath as Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November 2004, I was told not to take oath in Rahukalam time. I asked what this Rahukalam was, and was told it was the inauspicious time according to astrology. Now, Rahukalam is all nonsense (as is all astrology), but over 90 per cent of Tamilians believe in it. To give an example, a very senior south Indian lawyer practising in the Supreme Court told me that his Tamilian clients tell him not to begin reading their briefs during Rahukalam time.
Two, most ministers and even many chief justices of high courts take oath at the “auspicious” time, as advised by their astrologer.
Three, judges of the Supreme Court are allotted houses in the Supreme Court Judges pool. One of such houses was 7, Tughlak Lane. Unfortunately some mishaps happened to some judges who occupied this house, and thereafter no judge would accept it, thinking it was inauspicious. Ultimately, the then Chief Justice of India wrote to the concerned authority to remove that house from the judges pool, which was done, and another house allotted to the pool.
Four, some years back it was announced in the media (which plays a prominent role in spreading superstitions) that Lord Ganesh was drinking milk. There was a rush of huge crowds in many cities in India to offer milk to idols of Lord Ganesh. Similarly, some years back a miracle chapati was announced. Many such “miracles” keep happening from time to time, and most people believe them.
Five, this is a “baba-bound” society. Consider the number of “godmen”, their huge following and huge properties they amass. The latest one claims to have a third eye, like Lord Shiva. It was published in a leading English newspaper (April 18) that he had told people in Raipur not to keep shivalingams at home for their welfare but to put them in temples. As a result, temples in Raipur were flooded with Shivalingams. He had also advised eating kheer, samosas, golgappas etc for various problems. And much of all this was lapped up by his followers, who have donated huge amounts to him.
Six, when I was a judge in the Allahabad High Court, it was announced that someone in Tamil Nadu had discovered a method of converting water into petrol. Some of my colleagues said that now we will get cheap petrol. I told them this was a fraud, because in science there is a principle that everything moves from a higher energy level to a lower energy level. Petrol is at a higher energy level, whereas water is at a lower energy level. Water (H2O) is really burnt hydrogen, it is like ash. You can convert wood into ash by burning it, but how can you convert ash into wood? And later it was found to be a fraud.
Seven, before finalising a marriage most parents consult astrologers, and it is only if the “kundali” matches that the proposal is finalised. The poor “mangalik” girl is often rejected for no fault of hers.
Eight, every day, a large number of TV channels show astrology and all kinds of superstition. The Broadcast Editors Association announced that they will stop all this shortly, but how can they? The members of these bodies are only employees, not owners of the channels. Their pay packages (sometimes going up to two or three crores per year) are often linked with the TRP rating. Their owners have given one simple instruction to them — keep the TRP rating high.The owners only want profits, profits depend on advertisement revenues, which in turn depends on viewership.
Unfortunately, the intellectual level of the middle classes (who are the main viewers) in India is very low. All they wish to see is the lives of filmstars, fashion parades (often with half-naked women), cricket (which is opium for the masses) and of course, astrology. And so this is dished out day after day to get high TRP ratings.
Nine, most Hindus are communal, and most Muslims are also communal. As I have repeatedly pointed out, they were not communal before 1857. Before 1857, Hindus used to celebrate Eid, and Muslims used to celebrate Holi and Diwali. Muslim rulers, like the nawab of Avadh, Tipu Sultan etc used to organise Ramlila, give grants to Hindu temples, etc. It was after suppressing the Mutiny that the British decided that the only way to control India was by divide and rule. Hence a deliberate policy was laid down by the British to generate hatred between Hindus and Muslims. All communal riots started after 1857. The English collector would secretly call the local panditji, give him money, and ask him to start speaking against Muslims, and he would also call the local Maulvi secretly and give him money to speak against Hindus. This poison was systematically spread year after year, decade after decade, until it culminated in the Partition of 1947 (see ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’, and my articles ‘What is India’ and other articles on and the articles and the video on the website Even now, there are powerful vested interests promoting communal hatred. The truth is that 99 per cent people of all communities are good, but it will take a lot of time to remove the communal virus from our body politic. Today the situation is that whenever any bomb blasts take place, immediately Muslim individuals or groups are blamed for it.
Ten, social evils like honour killings, dowry deaths, female foeticide are still widely prevalent in India.
I have said all this not to demoralise Indians, but to point out to them the correct path to prosperity. It is only scientific thinking that can save us from the disaster to which we are headed.
India has a strong scientific heritage (see my article Sanskrit as a language of science ). It is only when we go back to the path shown by our great scientific ancestors, Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Sushrut, Charak, Ramanujan and Raman and spread scientific thinking widely that we can recover our former glory.
The writer, a former judge of the Supreme Court, is chairman of the Press Council

Published in The Indian Express

Saturday 14 April 2012

Release of Sarabjit Singh

H.E. The President of Pakistan
Mr. Asif Zardari
Through H.E. the Pakistan High Commissioner to India
Mr. Shahid Malik

                                                                                                                        New Delhi

Your Excellency,

                        Re: Release of Sarabjit Singh
            Your Excellency’s recent visit to India and Ajmer Sharif has created a climate for good relations between our two countries.

            Your Excellency was very kind to honour the appeal made by the bench of the Indian Supreme Court (consisting of Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and myself) for release of one Gopal Das, an Indian who had been undergoing a life sentence in Pakistan, and had spent 27 years in Pakistani jails. In our judgment we had quoted the famous Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz:

            “Qafas udaas hai yaaron saba se kuch to kaho
            Kaheen to behar-e-khuda aaj zikr-e-yaar chale”

On Your Excellency’s order Gopal Das was released and was sent back to India. I am very grateful for Your Excellency’s kind gesture.

            Now through this letter I am praying to you for similar generosity in the case of one Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national, who has been on death row in a Pakistani jail for over 20 years. I am appealing to you to order release of Sarabjit Singh and his return to India as a humanitarian gesture, exercising your power of pardon as the Pakistan President. By doing so you will add to the excellent impression among Indians created by your recent visit to Delhi and Ajmer Sharif, and improve ties between our two countries.

            You would be knowing that the Indian Supreme Court recently granted bail to Dr. Khalil Chishty, for whose release I have been campaigning for a long time. Release of Sarabjit Singh and sending him back to India will add to the friendly atmosphere which has been created.

            I will conclude by quoting Portia’s speech in Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’
            “The quality of mercy is not strained
            It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
            Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
            It blesseth him that gives and him that takes
            If is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
            It is an attribute of God himself;
            And earthly power doth then show like God’s
            When mercy seasons justice”

                                                                                                      With kind regards,
                                                                                                     Yours sincerely,       

                                                                                    (Justice Markandey Katju      
                                                                                    Former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and
                                                                                    Presently Chairman, Press Council of India)


Reporting of Troop Movement

PR/13/2012-2013                                     12th April, 2012

Press Release
Re:order of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench) dated   10.4.2012   regarding movement of army troops.

            I have perused the order of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court  in writ petition No 2685 dated 10.4.2012.  In that order a direction has been given to the Secretary, Home Affairs, and Secretary Information & Broadcasting, Government of India and the Principal Secretary (Home) , Govt. of U.P. to ensure that there is no reporting/ release of any news item by the print as well as electronic media relating to the subject matter, namely the movement of troops as contained in the accompanying annexures. (The news of alleged troop movement towards Delhi published by Indian Express on 4.4.2012).      In this connection, I am of the opinion that regarding reporting of troop movement by the Media a balanced approach has to be taken.  On the one hand freedom of the media is guaranteed as a fundamental right in Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, on the other hand this right is subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest as mentioned in Article 19(2).

 Now coming specifically to the question of reporting of movement of troops , I am of the opinion that reporting troop movement near the Indian border or during war time  should be prohibited as that may aid the enemy and cause harm to our armed forces, by compromising national security.  However, in my opinion there can be no general prohibition of reporting of all troop movements.
   As regards the reporting of alleged troop movement by the  Indian Express, I am of the opinion that  without going into the question  whether the  news reporting was factually correct or not, there could not have been a valid prohibition of such reporting, because the troop movement was not   at the Indian border or during war time.  On the other hand the allegation in the Indian Express report was that there was some convention  written or unwritten, that    troop movements towards Delhi should not take place without notifying  and  getting  consent of the government, and it was alleged that the troop movement in question took place without notifying the government. The further allegation was that this caused panic among the civil authorities, and the troop movement was abruptly stopped.
   The Allahabad High Court  order was passed on a writ petition relating to the above publication in the Indian Express.    With great respect to the High Court, I am of the opinion that the order of the High Court is not correct. The Media has a fundamental right under  Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution to make such publication, as it did not endanger national security.
        I may  add that the Indian Army is not a colonial army, but the army of the Indian people who pay the taxes for the entire defence budget.  Hence the people of India have a right to know about army affairs, except where that may compromise  national security.  The media did an excellent job in exposing the Adarsh and Sukhna  scams in which senior army officers were involved, and they were well within their right under Article 19(1) (a) to do so.
      The Indian Express is not a fly by night newspaper, but a responsible one.  They took 11 weeks to complete the investigation of the reported troop investigation before deciding to publish the report.  Hence I do not see how they can be faulted.
      The Press Council of India will be challenging the  order of the  Allahabad High Court in  the Supreme Court of India very shortly.     

                                                                                                              Chairman, Press Council of India

Monday 9 April 2012

The 90%

The 90%
By Justice Markandey Katju

            Someone told me “Justice Katju, you say you wish to keep away from controversies, but why it that controversies keep chasing you ?”
            I replied that while it is true that I wish to be uncontroversial, but at the same time I have a great defect, and that is this: I cannot remain silent when I am seeing my country going downhill. Even if others are deaf and dumb I am not. So I will speak out. As Faiz said:

“Bol ki lab azad hain tere
     Bol zubaan ab tak teri hai”  

In our Shastras it is written:

                               “Satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, na bruyat satyam apriyam”

Which means “Speak the truth, speak the pleasant, but do not speak the unpleasant truth”

            I wish to rectify this. The country’s situation today requires that we should say “Bruyat satyam apriyam” i.e. “Speak the unpleasant truth”.

               When I said that 90% Indians are fools I said an unpleasant truth. The truth is that the minds of 90% Indians are full of casteism, communalism, and superstitions. Consider the following:
1.         When our people go to vote in elections, 90% vote on the basis of caste or community, not the merits of the candidate. That is why Phulan Devi, a known dacoit-cum-murderer was elected to Parliament merely because she belonged to a backward caste which had a large number of voters in that constituency. Vote banks in India are on caste and community basis, which are manipulated by some unscrupulous politicians and others.
2.         90% Indians believe in astrology, which is pure superstition and humbug. Even a little commonsense tells us that the movements of stars and planets has nothing to do with our lives. Yet T.V. channels showing astrology have high T.R.P. ratings.
3.         Cricket has been made into a religion by our corporatized media, and most people lap it up like opium. The real problems facing 80% people are socio-economic ---- poverty, massive unemployment, malnourishment, price rise, health care, education, housing etc. But the media sidelines or minimizes these real issues, and gives the impression that the real issues are lives of film stars, fashion, cricket, etc. When Rahul Dravid retired the media depicted it as a great misfortune for the country, whereas when Sachin Tendulkar scored his 100th century it was depicted as a great achievement for India. Day after day the media kept harping on this, whereas the issues of a quarter million farmers suicides, and 47% Indian children being malnourished, was sidelined.
4.         I had criticized the media hype of Dev Anand’s death at a time when 47 farmers in India were committing suicide on an average every day for the last 15 years. A section of the media attacked me for doing so, but I reiterate that I see no justification for the high publicity given by the media to this event for several days. In my opinion, Dev Anand’s films transported the minds of poor people to a world of make believe, e.g. a hill station where Dev Anand was romancing some girl. This gave temporary relief for a couple of hours to the viewers from their lives of drudgery. Such films, to my mind, serve no social purpose, but act instead like a drug or alcohol to send the viewer temporarily from his miserable existence to a beautiful world of tinsel.
5.         In the recent Anna Hazare agitation in Delhi the media hyped the event as a solution to the problem of corruption. In reality it was, as Shakespeare said in Macbeth:
            “A tale, told by an idiot
            Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”    
At that time if anyone had raised some logical questions he would have been denounced as a ‘gaddaar’ or ‘deshdrohi’. The people who collected at Jantar Mantar or the Ramlila ground displayed the mob mentality, which has been accurately described by Shakespeare in ‘Julius Caesar’.
            After Caesar’s murder Mark Antony stirred up the Roman mob, which went around seeking revenge from the conspirators. One of the conspirators was named Cinna. The mob caught hold of another man, also named Cinna, who protested that he was Cinna the poet and not Cinna the conspirator. Despite his protest the mob said “Hang him for his bad verses” and lynched him.   
The Janlokpal Bill, 2011 (whose full text is available online) defines an act of corruption as an act punishable under Chapter IX of the Indian Penal Code or under the Prevention of Corruption Act vide section 2(e). Section 6(a) of the Bill says that the Lokpal will exercise superintendence over investigation of acts of corruption, and section 6(c) empowers the Lokpal to punish for acts of corruption after giving a hearing. Section 6(e) authorizes the Lokpal to initiate prosecution and section 6(f) authorizes him to ensure proper prosecution. Section 6(i)(j) authorize him to receive complaints.
Section 2 (c)  of the Prevention of Corruption Act define a public servant very widely. It includes not only government servants but also a host of other categories  e.g. an employee of a local body, Government Corporation, judge, certain office bearers of some co-operative societies, officials of Service Commission or Boards, Vice Chancellors and teachers in the University, etc.
As pointed out by me in my article” Recreating Frankenstein’s Monster” published in “Indian Express” on 31.3.2012 there are about 55 lac, (5.5 million) government employees in India (13 lac in Railways alone), and there would be several lac persons of other categories coming within the definition of public servant in the P.C Act. Obviously one person cannot supervise and decide the lacs of complaints against them which would pour in. Hence thousands of Lokpals, maybe 50,000 or more, will have to be appointed to deal with them. They will have to be given salaries, housing, offices, staff, etc. And considering the low level of morality prevailing in India, we can be fairly certain that most of them will become blackmailers. It will be creating a parallel bureaucracy, which at one stroke will double the corruption in the country. And who will guard these Praetorian guards? A body of Super Lokpals ?
All this was not rationally analyzed and instead the hysterical mob that gathered in Jantar Mantar or Ramlila ground in Delhi thought that corruption will be ended by shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Inquilab Zindabad”.
            It is time that Indians woke up to all this. When I call 90% of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished, I want the standard of living of the 80% poor Indians to rise so that they get decent lives.
            But this is possible when their mindset changes, when their minds are rid of casteism, communalism, and superstitions, and instead they become scientific and modern.
            By being modern I do not mean wearing a nice suit or beautiful sari or skirt. Being modern means having a modern mind, which means a rational mind, a logical mind a questioning mind, a scientific mind.  At one time India was leading the whole world in science and technology (see my article ‘Sanskrit as a language of Science’ on the website That was because our scientific ancestors like Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Sushrut, Charak, etc questioned everything. However, we subsequently took to the unscientific path of superstitions and empty rituals, which has led us to disaster. Today we are far behind the West in Science and Technology.
            The worst thing in life is poverty, and 80% of our people are poor. To abolish poverty we need to spread the scientific outlook to every nook and corner of our country. It is only then that India will shine. And until that happens the vast masses of our people will continue to be taken for a ride.