Supreme Court: Dismissing the petition filed by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju against the resolutions passed by Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha condemning the statements made by him in Facebook posts where he termed Mahatma Gandhi a British Agent and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose an agent of Japanese fascism, the Court said that for the free functioning of Houses of Parliament or Legislatures of State, the representatives of people must be free to discuss and debate any issues or questions concerning general public interest. It is entirely left to the discretion of the Presiding Officer to permit discussion so long as it is within the confines of Rules of Procedure.
The Court explained that as far as debates or discussion in the Houses of Parliament are concerned, the only substantive restriction found in the Constitution is in Article 121 of the Constitution which specifically mandates that no discussion shall take place in Parliament in respect of the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties. Barring such provision under Article 121, the Constitution has placed no restriction on what can be debated or discussed in Parliament. It is completely left to the wisdom or discretion of the individual Houses and the presiding authorities in terms of the Rules of Procedure of each House.
The 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and R. Banumathi and U.U. Lalit, JJ noticed that both the resolutions made reference to the offices held by the petitioner as a Judge of this Court and Chairman of the Press Council and show that both Houses were conscious of the fact that the remarks about Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose were made not by an ordinary person but by one who had occupied high public office. Hence, if both Houses thought it fit to pass resolutions in the form of a declaration, it was certainly within their competence to do so as the nature of remarks regarding Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose pertain to general public interest. It was further noticed that the resolutions had no civil consequences in so far as the conduct and character of the petitioner is concerned. [Justice (Retd.) Markandey Katju v. The Lok Sabha, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1484, decided on 15.12.2016]