Justice (Retd.) Markandey Katju vs The Lok Sabha - Supreme Court Case
Justice (Retd.) Markandey Katju vs The Lok Sabha - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2016 -
On 15th December, 2016, in the case of Justice (Retd.) Markandey Katju vs The Lok Sabha & Anr. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 504 of 2015], wherein Resolutions passed by the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha condemning the remarks made by the petitioner on his Facebook page regarding Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were in issue, a three Judge Bench examined the question as to whether the power available with the Houses of Parliament to deal with a stranger is only in relation to such act of that stranger which interferes with the functioning of the House and since the remarks of the petitioner did not in any way impede or interfere with the proceedings of Parliament, it was not within the jurisdiction of any of the Houses to take notice of such remarks and pass the Resolutions in question.
The Bench held that “the only restriction in the Constitution as regards subject matter of any debate or discussion is to be found in Article 121 of the Constitution. It is axiomatic for the free functioning of Houses of Parliament or Legislatures of State that the representatives of people must be free to discuss and debate any issues or questions concerning general public interest. It is entirely left to the discretion of the Presiding Officer to permit discussion so long as it is within the confines of Rules of Procedure.”
While observing that “the condemnation by both the Houses was of the opinion and remarks and did not refer to the conduct or character of the petitioner”, the Bench held that in the context of remarks from a person of the stature of the petitioner, which were put in public domain, “if both Houses thought it fit to pass resolutions in the form of a declaration, it was certainly within their competence. The nature of remarks regarding Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose pertain to general public interest and as such the Houses were certainly within their jurisdiction to pass resolutions.”
The Bench observed that “it is true that a citizen or an individual may find himself in a situation where he has no way to reply to the discussion or a resolution passed by the concerned House” and “the concerned individual or citizen may also find himself in a position where the resolution is passed without giving him any opportunity of hearing”
which “definitely is a matter of concern and has engaged attention of the concerned in some countries.” While making reference to developments and instances as prevalent in various jurisdictions, the Court held that “in what manner and to what extent the citizen be protected and insulated is for the concerned Houses and Legislatures to decide.”