Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju today tendered unconditional apology to the Supreme Court over his contemptuous remarks in his blog. The Court has accepted the apology and closed the contempt proceedings against him.
"I offer my unconditional apology for publishing the above captioned writings and have deleted the same from my blog entries on Facebook," Katju said, in his apology, read out in court by senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan. "I express my respect for the judicial appointment process and for the judiciary as an institution of governance," he said.
Urging the court to take his unconditional apology on record, Katju told the court: "I am prepared to read it in open court if I am called upon to do so." In their order, the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said: "In view of the apology tendered, we accept and close the proceeding."
The apex court had issued a suo moto contempt notice to a former judge for the first time in India's judicial history. Justice Katju faced contempt notice for allegedly using "intemperate" language and "scandalising" the judiciary in one of his Facebook posts.
He had criticised the judgment that commuted to life term the death sentence awarded to Govindachamy, a Kerala resident. Govindachamy had not murdered but only raped 23-year-old sales representative Soumya, the court ruled while dismissing petitions filed by the Kerala government and victim’s mother against a high court order clearing Govindachamy of the murder charge.
In his Facebook post, Katju said the judgement was laden with fundamental flaws. Katju, in his Facebook post, had said: "The Supreme Court judgment in the Soumya case is wrong… I submit that the Supreme Court has erred in law in not holding the accused guilty of murder, and its judgment needs to be reviewed to this extent."
The Supreme Court described the post as "a serious assault on judges, not on judgements" and initiated a contempt case.
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, issuing the notice to Katju on 11 November, said: "He is a respected gentleman. We request him to come in person and debate his Facebook post criticising the judgment. Let him come to the court and let's debate over the fundamental flaws in our verdict."
Soumya, an employee of a Kochi shopping mall, was assaulted by Govindachamy, a serial offender in an empty ladies' coach of Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train on February 1, 2011.
Govindachamy grabbed her by the hair and hit her head repeatedly against the wall of the coach. After she was thrown off the moving train, he jumped after her, hit her with a stone and raped her in her wounded state.
She died five days after the savage attack.
Govindachamy was sentenced to death by a trial court and the order was confirmed by the high court in 2013. In September, the Supreme Court cancelled Govindachamy's death sentence saying there was no evidence that he had caused Soumya's death or had intended to kill her.
In November, the top court dismissed petitions to review its judgment
Commenting that there had been a "gross error of judgement", Justice Katju wrote that the court had relied on hearsay.