Markandey Katju Faces Sedition Charge for Facebook Post about Bihar

Katju continues to face flak for a Facebook post in which he said Pakistan could have Kashmir if it agreed to take Bihar as well.

Former Supreme Court judge, Markandey Katju has been slapped with a sedition charge after posting an allegedly anti-national status on Facebook in which he asked Pakistan to take Bihar along with Kashmir as a “package deal”.

JD (U) members along with the party’s Bihar spokesman Neeraj Kumar filed a sedition complaint against Katju at the Shashtrinagar police station. Biren Pratap, the SHO at the station told PTI  that Katju has been booked under Section 124-A and others in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Katju responded to the news through his Facebook account by posting the following:

His original Facebook post also prompted another case against him. According to a report by PTI, a lawyer in Bihar, Arvind Kumar filed a petition against Katju with the Patna Chief Judicial Magistrate, Om Prakash as well.

His sarcastic comment on social media drew flak from a number of sources, including Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar who retorted by telling reporters, “”Is Katju ‘mai-baap’ (mother and father) of Bihar or is Katju ‘maalik’ (owner) of Bihar”.  he continued, “We are proud of Bihar and our roots here”.

To which Katju responded with:

Bihar’s deputy chief minister Tejaswi Prasad Yadav, former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and JD(U) leaders K C Tyagi and Shyam Rajak also chimed in. The IANS reported that Yadav tweeted, “The state of Bihar may be lacking in resources but it did not give Katju a free hand to humiliate Bihar… The state may be devoid of resources but it does not mean anyone can lambast it”.

Katju, on the other hand, posted a clarification on his Facebook account, saying he was “only joking”. However, since that post yesterday, he has responded to Kumar and others’ comments via multiple Facebook statuses. Two of his notable retorts follow:

Katju, who is a prolific commentator in the media, including occasionally for The Wire, last wrote a piece for this publication criticising the manner in which the crime of sedition has been misapplied across the country to criminalise mere speech.