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Katju (who’s actually quite good at sorry) proffers SC strategically sensible contempt avoidance apology

Markandey Katju picks the lesser of several evils...

Sometimes sorry is the hardest word. Unless you're facing angry judges for contempt!
Sometimes sorry is the hardest word. Unless you're facing angry judges for contempt!

Ex-Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju has offered a two-page apology to the Supreme Court, saying he would be prepared to read it out in person in open court if required, in marked contrast to his belligerence last month after he accused the Supreme Court of conducting a surgical strike on him to humiliate him (which, perhaps, was kind of true in their suo motu contempt action against him for one of his many blog posts that were critical-cum-offensive against the judiciary).

The Hindustan Times and others reported that senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan today went before Justice Ranjan Gogoi:

Former Supreme Court judge justice Markandey Katju tendered his unconditional apology before the top court on Friday for writing a Facebook post criticising its judges and their judgement in the Saumya-rape-cum-murder case.

In a two-page application, justice Katju said he had deleted the FB posts and had respect for the judicial process and the judiciary.

“I am ready to read out the apology before the open court,” justice Katju’s application read, requesting the court to hear his plea before it shuts down for winter vacation.

Gogoi, who was the original source of Katju’s self-styled humiliation on the bench over which he was presiding last month with Justice UU Lalit, reportedly agreed to consider to an early hearing, after having fixed a January date for Katju to respond to its suo motu notice (which would have left Katju with contempt hanging over his head throughout the winter vacations).

Wise strategy

In light of the near-unfettered contempt jurisdiction, particularly of the apex court, apologising to the judges has universally been found to be the safest (and least costly) course of action when facing contempt by angry judges (except if you’re Arundhati Roy). And even when you’re not really sorry: for instance, in February one advocate who was allegedly shouting angry slogans in court got away with an apology while reportedly continuing to make the same statements outside court.

On that point, it’s also worth reading our guide on contempt and whether it’s ever ok to call a judge a ‘sumbhan’].

And while Katju must have bristled to come to the point of having to apologise to his “juniors” (as he had complained in his angry blog post), Katju has actually not often shied away from apologising for his often controversial remarks.

Only in October, for instance, he apologised for an offensive comment he had made about Orisha.

And even for what is perhaps his most wide-ranging and infamous insult (that “90 percent Indians are fools") Katju had apologised in 2013 “if anyone’s feelings have been hurt by these statements or any other statements of mine”.

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