Even the chairman has the freedom of speech- #JusticeKatju


MARKANDEY KATJU, The Hindu

Outspoken has no connection with my being associated with the Press Council of India

“Bol ki lab azaad hain terey

Bol zubaan ab tak teri hai”

(Speak out for your lips are free

Speak out for your tongue is still yours”)

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

I have been criticised by some politicians, lawyers and others for being outspoken on some issues unrelated to the press while being the Chairman of The Press Council of India (PCI). As a result, it is time now for my response.

The main attack on me is that since the PCI discharges quasi-judicial functions, its Chairman should not speak on non-media issues.

First of all, let me say that if a matter comes up before the PCI when it is exercising quasi-judicial functions involving an issue or a person about which or whom I have expressed my view, I will immediately recuse myself from the deliberations and decision on it. In quasi-judicial matters I do not make decisions on my own. Rather, it is the PCI which, by majority vote, makes decisions. There are 28 members of the PCI apart from the Chairman. If I recuse myself then the other members will deal with the matter as they deem fit. What then is all the hullabaloo about?

It is then said that a judge should not comment on public issues except when a case comes before him. I reply by saying that I am not a judge but a retired judge. It may be pointed out that the post and functions of the Chairman of the PCI are very different from that of a judge.

First, while a judge has only judicial functions (except the power given to High Courts under Article 235 of the Constitution of administrative control over the subordinate judiciary), the Press Council not only performs quasi-judicial functions under Section 14 of the PCI Act of adjudicating complaints by or against the press, but also preserves the freedom of the press and maintains high standards of journalism, vide Section 13. Second, the High Court and Supreme Court have powers which the PCI does not have. Example, the power to issue writs; punish for contempt of court; quash orders of administrative authorities; issue directions in a PIL, etc. There are several other differences between judges and the Chairman of the PCI. How then can the two posts be treated as equal?

I have repeatedly said that I am not only Chairman of the PCI but also a citizen of India. The PCI Act contains no provision prohibiting me from speaking on non-media issues (though, as I have already said, if a matter comes in quasi judicial proceedings of the PCI on which I have expressed my view I will recuse myself from the deliberations and decision). Hence, I will continue speaking on such issues, particularly when it is, in my opinion, a matter of grave importance for the nation, no matter what some people might say. I have a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution (which gives the freedom of speech to all citizens) to speak on such matters even while remaining the Chairman of the PCI.

A charge is made against me that I am a government servant and a government appointee and am therefore doing the bidding of the government. To this my reply is as follows: first, the Chairman of the PCI is not appointed by the government but selected under s.5(2) of the PCI Act by a selection committee comprising: 1. the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (the Vice-President of India) 2. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and 3. a representative of the PCI (who is not appointed by the government but chosen democratically by the members of the PCI). It was this body which unanimously selected me. Second, I am not a government servant but an independent statutory authority. It is true that s.7(1) describes me as an “officer,” but the word “officer” does not necessarily mean a government servant. One word can have several meanings, and it depends on the context in which the word has been used. The word “officer” in s.7(1) means a person holding an office. That the Chairman of the PCI is not a government employee is borne out by several features: 1. An employee is usually under the supervision and control of a superior, but the Chairman of the PCI has no superior 2. Employees have ACRs (annual confidential reports) but there is no ACR of the Chairman 3. An employee can be suspended and (if he is on a transferable job) transferred, but the Chairman can neither be suspended nor transferred 4. The Government Servants’ Conduct Rules do not apply to the Chairman of the PCI.

No doubt the salary of the Chairman is paid by the government (the appointment letter states that the Chairman will get the same salary, benefits and amenities as a sitting Supreme Court Judge), but then salaries of High Court and Supreme Court judges are also paid by the government. Does that make such judges government employees?

To those who said that I have only criticised non-Congress governments I have already given my answer in various TV discussions that I have frequently criticised Congress governments too, examples being of Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. I accuse such persons of twisting facts.

I would not have even bothered to give this explanation but for the misleading comments made by some persons which could have misguided the public.

(Justice Markandey Katju is Chairman, Press Council of India.)

Celebrating 100 years of Faiz and Manto- at TISS, Mumbai


Inline image 1– M

Dear  Friends,

It is a nice co-incidence that this year (2012) is the birth centenary of two of the greatest creative writers that twentieth century has produced  – Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Saadat Hasan Manto. It is worth remembering that these writers lived and worked through turbulent and difficult times personally as well as socially, politically. Although the times have changed and the challenges have taken a new form, the relevance of the ideas and values that these people worked and stood for are worth revisiting. Hence we thought it would be a good idea if we could organize something to not only remember and underscore the relevance of those dreams and ideas shared by these people but also to expose and acquaint ourselves with the several such thinkers and romantics who dreamt of a better world.

It is not just an exercise in celebration of their uniqueness but also committing ourselves to the struggle for a more equal world, to rework the world in favor of the ‘wretched of the earth’.

We are well aware that this exercise maybe found lacking in its direct relationship with the core business of education, but as Anthony O’Hear says, engaging with the sphere of literature and art is integral to the idea of ‘education for goodness in a changing world’.


Please join us for the following
सबसे खतरनाक होता हैं, मुर्दा शांति से भर जाना
ना होना तड़प का, सब कुछ सहन कर जाना
घर से निकलना काम पर, काम से घर आ जाना
सबसे खतरनाक होता हैं हमारे सपनो का मर जाना

– अवतार सिंह पाश 

…eager to hear many more such great pieces tomorrow.
The process of unearthing such writers and reliving their thoughts will begin with sharing what each one of us know and hold dear.
Please bring in pieces that inspire you (any language) and share them.
Poetry Reading Session
Date: 22 May (Tuesday) 2012
Time: 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Venue: Quadrangle, TISS Campus, Deonar
ALL ARE INVITED
1. Poetry Reading – 22 May, 6.30-8.00 PM, Quadrangle, TISS Campus (Opposite Deonar bus depot, Chembur)
Poems with social or political relevance in any language would be welcome.
2. A Talk on Faiz Ahmed Faiz  – 26 May, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, Common Room, TISS Campus (Opposite Deonar bus depot, Chembur)
SpeakerProf. Zaheer Ali


3. Screening of Kali Shalwar, the film based on Manto’s story by the same title followed by a discussion.
30 May, 6 PM, Common room, TISS Campus 
(Opposite Deonar bus depot, Chembur)

Please call – 08237680474 or             09911118081       for further details.
in solidarity
Manish Jain, Nandini Manjrekar, Saqib Khan, Yogender Dutt and Vivek Vellanki

Kindling music, playing a revolution


NEW DELHI, April 23, 2012

Vijetha S. N, The Hindu

Artistes from Pakistan’s Laal Band performing at Press Club of India in New<br /><br />
Delhi on Sunday evening. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar.
Artistes from Pakistan’s Laal Band performing at Press Club of India in New Delhi on Sunday evening. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar.

Laal Band speaks the language of Marx and Faiz Ahmed Faiz

A song dedicated to Lenin, Lal Salaams, the revolutionary poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib and Ahmed Faraz and quotes from Karl Marx — all intrinsic features of the Pakistan-based rock band Laal Band — were the highlights of a performance at the Press Club of India here on Sunday.

“I feel upbeat. So all the songs are going to be fun and fast, nothing slow,” promised the band’s lead singer and guitarist Taimur Rahman, an hour before the show was to begin.

During the performance, Taimur encouraged the audience to sing along, occasionally stopping to quote Marx or a bit of poetry.

“We have a song Jhoot Ka Uncha Sar with visuals that depict women who dress like the military – everyone refused to air that video because they felt it went against the Pakistani army and another song of ours which was against the Taliban. Well I still get hate mails for that one,” added Taimur Rahman when asked about the revolutionary nature of his band which has surprisingly done very well commercially.

The band has been in India for sometime, already having toured Mumbai and Pune along, and has given three recent performances in the Capital. “The response was amazing, equal or even better than in Pakistan. We got standing ovations in almost all our concerts here,” Rahman said, adding: “Delhi is just like Lahore. So much so that I feel more culturally and aesthetically connected to Delhi than other cities in Pakistan like Peshawar and Karachi.”

The band members said their philosophy was firmly based on socialist values and Leftist ideals and also sought to popularise the works of revolutionary poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib and Ahmed Faraz. “It is an honour for us to put their poems to our music,” he added.

Taimur is also a professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences and has been leading the band for several years now. The band used to play at small gatherings, but all that changed in 2007 when lawyers in Pakistan started a movement against military dictator General Pervez Musharraf‘s unconstitutional sacking of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The band’s philosophy and revolutionary songs calling on the country’s young to fight against injustice and oppression had a widespread appeal, which propelled it into instant popularity.

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