New Delhi: "Nobody is above law" and a former judge of the Supreme Court is an "ordinary citizen". This was how some legal experts reacted to the apex court order asking its former judge Markandey Katju to appear personally before it to explain the "fundamental flaws", as claimed by him in the sensational Soumya rape case.
While welcoming the order, senior advocate and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave said "powerful signals have been sent to those who bring disrepute to the organisation".
Its vice president and senior advocate Ajit Kumar Sinha was of the view that it is an "unprecedented" order and Justice Katju, who has become a "common citizen" after his retirement, has to clear his stand on the issue. Senior lawyer Meenakshi Arora termed the order as "undoubtedly unusual" but said "Let's take it as a positive fact that as a critic of a judgment, the court can ask for his assistance."
However, Sinha said as long as his blog is limited to criticising the judgement there will not be any problem but if he had exceed the limit by criticising the judge or the author of the judgement then it would take a different dimension.
"As long as somebody citicises the judgement, then it's not the problem. But if someone criticises the judge, then that is not right. The move by the Supreme Court is unprecedented," Sinha said.
A very respectful senior advocate and a good friend of Justice Katju told PTI on the condition of anonymity, "nobody is above the law" and if somebody scandalises the Supreme Court, it is entitled to ask him to explain.
"A Facebook post is also a public speech. But nobody is above the law. If someone scandalises the Supreme Court, they are entitled to ask him to explain. They have not issued any contempt. This is giving an opportunity to him to mellow down his comments," the senior lawyer said.
Dave, who was more forthcoming, said "This is a right move and I hope it teaches Justice Katju a lesson for impropriety."
"This is for the first time that a former Supreme Court judge has been asked to appear in court. I would say this is a welcome move by the Supreme Court. I hope powerful signals are sent to those who bring disrepute to the organisation, irrespective of the fact as to who they are," he said.
His colleague in the SCBA, Sinha said "After retirement, Justice Katju has also become a common citizen. He has been asked to appear in the court to explain his stand on the comment he made. I think, the bench thought it right that he himself should clear the stand. If he is able to substantiate his stand then the court will review. Else, consequences will follow.