Attorney General KK Venugopal on Tuesday recused himself from dealing with a plea for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju for his remarks against the top court while deposing before a court in United Kingdom in Nirav Modi extradition case.
KK Venugopal, in his reply to the petitioner advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, said, “I have to point out that I have known Justice Katju for the last about 16 years and we have been interacting with each other ever since. In this background it is not appropriate that I deal with the matter.”
He pointed out that section 15 (3) empowers either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General of India to grant consent for initiating criminal contempt proceedings if deemed fit.
“If so advised, you may file your application for consent before the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta,” KK Venugopal told Srivastava in his one page letter.
Srivastava wrote to KK Venugopal on March 1 and sought his consent for initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Justice (retd) Katju.
Srivastava cited the UK court’s verdict of February 25 while rejecting the plea of fugitive economic offender Nirav Modi against his extradition to India.
He said the UK court has recorded the alleged “contemptuous” remarks made by Justice (retd) Katju by way of evidence in favour of Nirav Modi.
“It is quite axiomatic from a bare perusal of the paragraphs of the said judgement that Justice (retd) Markandey Katju has deliberately and wilfully scandalised the Supreme Court and has lowered its authority, not only before a court of United Kingdom but also before the public at large, by way of giving elaborate media briefing in this regard,” Srivastava said in his plea to the Attorney General.
He said the statements of Justice (retd) Katju have brought the administration of justice in disrepute in India and abroad and are capable of undermining the dignity and authority of the institution of Supreme Court in general and the office of the Chief Justice of India in particular, in the eyes of public at large.
“Hence, it is requested to kindly grant consent under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Rule 3 (c) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court of India, 1975, so that appropriate contempt of court proceedings make be initiated against Justice (retd) Markandey Katju before the Supreme Court of India,” he has said in his plea.
On February 25, the Westminster Magistrates” Court in London accepted the contention of the Indian government to extradite Nirav Modi saying that the evidence against him “is prima facie sufficient to order his extradition to India to face the charges”.
The court also upheld the assurances of India and rejected the submissions of defence regarding human rights violations, fair trial and prison conditions and decided to send Modi”s case to the Secretary of the State, UK for final decision.
Nirav Modi is wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case.