Senior Congress Leader Digvijaya Singh today took on Mr Arun Jaitley, saying, "I am very surprised to read totally unnecessary and outlandish statement of Arun Jaitley against Justice Markandey Katju. In what capacity is he sitting in judgment about Katju's performance as a sitting Judge and post retirement as Chairman Press Council of India ?. He added, "Justice Katju is one of the very eminent Judges of Indian Judiciary who has always called a spade a spade."
Congress party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "I am astonished at the outburst. Over the past 11 years, so many people across the country have criticised the role of Mr Modi in the riots, people who are linked to politics as well as people who have nothing to do with politics. Does it mean all those who criticise Modi are Congress plants?"
In a steady escalation of rhetoric, the BJP has reacted sharply to the Congress statements. Backing Mr Jaitley's demand, BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, "Mr.Katju is floating around the country like a vagabond and is giving unsolicited comments. He should quit."
Arun Jaitley had on Sunday said Justice Katju "appears more Congress than the Congress party". A person holding chair of Press Council must be impartial, Mr Jaitley wrote in an article titled, "Why Justice Markandey Katju must quit as the Chairman of the Press Council of India." Read article
Mr Jaitley said Justice Katju's attacks "seem more in the nature of thanks-giving to those who provided him with a post-retirement job". He accused the Press Council Chairman of attacking non-Congress governments in Bihar, Gujarat and West Bengal on the basis of "his political preferences".
"Dignified comment is alien to him," Mr Jaitley said, contending that retired judges of the Supreme Court and high courts must not be eligible for government jobs, as in some cases it influences their 'pre-retirement judicial conduct'.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted in support of Mr Jaitley, claiming that Justice Katju looked at his state with a "jaundiced eye".
Terming Mr Jaitley's statements "rubbish" and "personal attacks", Justice Katju said, "He (Jaitley) should resign from politics." (Watch)
Countering Mr Jaitley's argument of targeting non-Congress chief ministers, Justice Katju said he had written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in November last year condemning the arrest of two girlsfor criticizing on Facebook the shutdown following Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's death. He said he had also written to Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, now Himachal Pradesh chief minister, over his remarks to a cameraman during campaign in the state assembly polls.
Justice Katju has been praised by noted jurist Fali S Nariman for his article which was critical of Narendra Modi. In an email sent on Friday, Mr Nariman said, "It is an outstanding (article) - it needed to be said by a person who doesn't merely pretend to support human rights but lives it every moment of his life." (Read: Fali Nariman praises Katju's article)