SC summons Katju after he calls Soumya rape & murder judgment 'grave error'

SC has asked him to come in person to the court and 'debate' over who is right - him or the court

The Supreme Court on Monday summoned retired judge Markandey Katju to explain himself over his Facebook post where he criticised the sentence in the Soumya rape and murder case.

This is the first time that an apex court has taken judicial notice of a personal blog criticising a judgment. SC has asked him to come in person to the court and ‘debate’ over who is right – him or the court.

Criticising the Bench’s judgement, Katju had called the verdict a “grave error” not expected of “judges who had been in the legal world for decades.”

“Even a student of law in a law college knows this elementary principle that hearsay evidence is inadmissible,” Justice Katju had written in the blog.

The SC had commuted the death sentence of convict Govindachamy in the case to a seven-year jail term after dropping the murder charge against him. A bench of headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi upheld charges under sections 376 (punishment for rape), 394 (Voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery) and 325 (Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code.

Here is what Justice Katju wrote in his blog:

Earlier in 2013, the Kerala High Court had upheld the death sentence awarded by the Thrissur fast track court to Govindachamy in the case.

Soumya, an employee of a Kochi shopping mall, was killed after she was travelling in a ladies coach on the Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train on February 1, 2011. She was attacked and pushed off from the slow-moving train by Govindachamy. He jumped off the train, carried her to an area near the track and raped her. She succumbed to her injuries at a government hospital in Thrissur on February 6, 2011.

The prosecution had during the hearing pointed out that Govindachamy had already been convicted in eight cases in his native state. Considering him as a habitual offender, the fast track court in 2012 awarded death sentence to the accused. The HC had upheld the death sentence two years later, against which he moved the Supreme Court.