New Delhi: In an unprecedented order, the Supreme Court on Monday summoned one of its former judges, Markandey Katju, to appear in person before it to point out the "fundamental flaws", as claimed by him in the sensational Soumya rape case.
"He (Justice Katju) 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," a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice U U Lalit said and issued a notice to Justice Katju.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was assisting the top court in the matter, said "I think it is for the first time that the Supreme Court has asked its former judge to appear in person before it in connection with any matter". In his Facebook post and also his personal blogpost, Justice Katju had criticised the apex court saying it had grievously erred by "not holding" the convict, Govindachamy, "guilty of murder" in the case.
The bench also kept the review petitions filed by Kerala and Soumya's mother in abeyance saying it would debate with Justice Katju on his facebook post.
"Though arguments have been elaborate and stands concluded, we do not consider it appropriate to express any opinion on the contentions advanced at this stage. This is so because we are of the view that a connected issue which has arisen needs to be resolved in the first instance," the bench said referring to the blog of Justice Katju.
"Such a view coming from a retired judge of this Court needs to be treated with greatest of respect and consideration. Office to register a suo motu review petition," the bench said in its order.
"We issue notice to Justice Markandey Katju, former judge of this Court and request him to appear in Court in person and participate in the proceedings on 11 November... as to whether the judgment and order dated September 15 passed by this Bench...suffers from any fundamental flaw so as to require exercise of the review jurisdiction," the bench said.
While issuing notice to Justice Katju, the bench also quoted his Facebook post criticising the Soumya case verdict, which said "It is regrettable that the Court has not read Section 300 carefully. The judgment needs to be reviewed in an open court hearing".
In another post on the same issue, Justice Katju had written "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".
Justice Katju, through his Facebook post on September 15, had criticised the verdict commuting to life the death sentence awarded to Govindachamy for raping 23-year-old Soumya on February 1, 2011, after pushing her out of a train in Kerala.
Following the apex court order, the state as well as Soumya's mother had filed review petitions.