New Delhi: Calling a spade a spade. Mincing no words. Or any other phrase equivalent to them.
These perfectly describe the attributes of Justice Markandey Katju, former chairperson, Press Council of India.
Prior to his appointment to that post which he held until October 2014, he had served as the chief justice of the Delhi high court, acting chief justice of Madras high court and as acting chief Justice of Allahabad High Court.
During his tenure at the Press Council of India in particular, he had ‘courted’ a few controversies, to the extent of ‘controversy’ being referred to as his second name. His admirers loved him to the core. His critics disliked him to the hilt. With not many in the via media or grey zone perhaps.
He runs a blog with the message, ‘Satyam bruyat’ (Speak the truth). The full text of the Sanskrit saying is, ‘Satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, na bruyat satyam apriyam’ (Speak the truth, speak the pleasant, but do not speak the unpleasant truth). He had modified it as ‘Speak the unpleasant truth’.
It appears someone had said to him a few years ago, ‘Justice Katju, you say you wish to keep away from controversies, but why is it that controversies keep chasing you ?’. He had replied that while it was true that he wished to be uncontroversial, at the same time he had a great defect, and that was: ‘I cannot remain silent when I am seeing my country going downhill. Even if others are deaf and dumb, I am not. So I will speak out’.
That says it all. In essence, Justice Katju, the whole Justice Katju and nothing but Justice Katju.
For example, here are two of his latest tweets:
‘It was most improper of Justice Dattu to praise Modi openly. What message will go to the public ?’
‘Kiran Bedi has joined BJP. I was once told by someone that if you do not have anything good to say about someone, do not say anything at all. I have nothing to say.’
He has been in the news this week after his now-famous post in the blog on Katrina Kaif.
Katrina Kaif for President of India
Croatia, which has an ailing economy, has elected a beautiful woman, Ms Grabar-Kitarovic, as its President.
I am always in favour of electing beautiful women, like film actresses, on all posts. This is because politicians will promise the moon, but not do anything for the public welfare. So since you must have someone, why not vote for a beautiful face ? At least you will get some momentary happiness looking at her face in the media. Otherwise you will get nothing at all.
I suggest we make Katrina Kaif the next President of India, but on condition that she sings ‘ Sheela ki Jawaani’ on her Inaugural !
Hari Om !
All hell broke loose in some quarters. No doubt, it was a light Katjuesque banter. But Indians are known to have gone on record for their sense of humour sometimes and the lack of it most other time. Some called it an insult to the topmost post in the Indian hierarchy. Others said it had a sexist overtone, as if only good-looking women deserved to be on top. A few accounted it for an old-age aberration at the source.
Only Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the Croatian president, may have taken it in her stride with a mild chuckle. How our dainty damsel from Bollywood reacted is not immediately known.
Justice Katju, realizing that he had stirred up a hornet’s nest, hurriedly but briefly posted as follows:
‘I had posted ‘Katrina Kaif for President of India’ on my blog. It was purely in lighter vein. However since it appears some people have taken offence I apologize.’
Amidst the stress and strain of day-to-day life and worldly cares and worries, don’t we need breaks of this kind?
Thank Goodness for small mercies.