Chairman of Press Council expresses need for changes in the contempt law

The former Supreme Court judge and Chairman of Press Council of India Markandey Katju expressed the need for Chief Justice of India to go for wider consultation than restricting himself to five judges of the collegium while recommending names for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts.

During his interaction with students of SDM Law College here on Tuesday where he delivered an endowment lecture, Mr. Katju said consulting for recommending advocates for the post of Supreme Court judges, the Chief Justice should not just restrict himself to the collegium. “Ultimately it bears the signatures of the five judges, but there should be a wider consultation. This is the correct way… This is the way the system should function,” he said and added that the same should apply with regard to High Court judges.

Mr. Katju referred to the way he went about recommending names of 20 advocates during his time as the Chief Justice of Tamil Nadu in 2004. Mr. Katju said he went about consulting senior judges of the High Court, Advocate-Generals, and senior advocates while arriving at consensus on the names.

“I was determined on one thing that I will not recommend wrong names come what may. Certain pressures were put on me. But I did not succumb. I wanted first class judges for the Madras High Court, a great high court that deserves best judges.” Mr. Katju said he made sure that no person with close contacts with any political party was recommended.

Expressing concerns over trial by media, Mr. Katju said a judge did not have power to restrict reporting of proceedings for a temporary period if such a measure helped in rendering justice. Mr. Katju said he was in favour of telecast of judicial proceedings that helped people, who were the masters. People need to know how judges, who were their servants, function. He expressed the need for changes in the contempt law that prevented people from exercising their right to criticise.

Mr. Katju said there was a need to preserve the great diversity of the country. Stern action needed to be taken against groups who flared up religious passion and created vote banks. Mr. Katju asked youngsters to think about the country and involve themselves in creatively finding solutions to problems facing the country namely those related to unemployment, health care and price rise.

Mr. Katju earlier delivered endowment lecture on ‘Constitutional Jurisprudence’.

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