Bruyat satyam apriyam: PCI Chairman Katju cannot be impeached
by Krishen Kak on 20 Feb 2013 54 Comments

Markandey Katju was a judge of the Supreme Court of India who, after retirement, was appointed chairman of the statutory Press Council of India. As PCI Chairman, Katju is predisposed to making pronouncements not only pertaining directly to the Press, but pertaining also to a number of issues of general public interest, including homilies to elected chief ministers on the due performance of their duty.


But what about Katju’s own duty? In December 2012, Katju declared “90 per cent of Indians are fools”.  


Sent a legal notice by two young students, he promptly backtracked using the tired excuse that he had “been misquoted in the press reports” (PCI Chairman misquoted? O tempora!). Katju then, confusingly, went on to admit “but it is true that I have said that 90 per cent Indians (not all) are fools.”  He continued with an elaborate obfuscation of not meaning what he had said - he wished to clarify that he does not regard Indians as inherently stupid or foolish. ‘It is only at present that large parts of our people are foolish.....’  He said what he did because ‘you see I made that statement not to harm the Indian people, whom I love, but to benefit them’. The truth is sometimes bitter, but sometimes bitter medicine has to be given to an ailing person. [1]


Elsewhere, the same month, he said of us that “‘you people are a bunch of idiots… I say ninety per cent of Indians are fools. You people don’t have brains in your heads’…  Katju said he was saying harsh things to make the countrymen, whom he loved, to understand the whole game and refrain from making fools of themselves”.[2]


He clarified the duty he has assigned to himself. He sees himself as India’s Solon. Less charitably, he has been called our National Know-All (on the lines of our National Bird, National Animal and other assorted National What-have-yous). He declaimed: “In our sastras it is written: Satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, na bruyat satyam apriyam (Speak the truth, speak the pleasant, but do not speak the unpleasant truth). I wish to rectify this. The country’s situation today requires that we say Bruyat satyam apriyam (Speak the unpleasant truth). 


“When I said that 90 per cent Indians are fools I spoke an unpleasant truth.... When I called 90 per cent of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished, I want the standard of living of the 80 per cent poor Indians to rise so that they get decent lives.


But this is possible when their mindset changes, when their minds are rid of casteism, communalism and superstition, and they become scientific and modern… Being modern means having a modern mind, which means a rational mind, a logical mind, a questioning mind, a scientific mind”.[3]


Accordingly, Katju has his own blog, titled Satyam Bruyat, through which he enlightens us Indian fools and idiots (whom he loves) with his “unpleasant truths” about us. One of these “unpleasant truths” which greatly exercises his learned mind is a shadow on his horizon named Narendra Modi. Katju inveighs against Shri Modi with such visceral hatred that one suspects he does so only to prove his loyalty to those who provided him with a cushy well-paid perk-filled retirement job – and angle with them for another one when his term gets over in 2014.


“Mr. Modi’s claims about development were false. The living standard of the common people was still abysmal... The time may come when the people of the State would themselves realise that the development about which Mr. Modi boasts a lot was of no use to them... ‘There is no way in which the blot on Mr. Modi’s name due to the 2002 Gujarat riots can be wiped out,’.... On Mr. Modi’s third successive win in Assembly elections, he said everyone knew how polls were fought and won these days”.[4]


This warning to us fools and idiots obviously did not achieve the effect that Katju hoped for, because he’s now published his opinion that Shri Narendra Modi is...well, as good as being a murderer



Katju is entitled to his opinion as a private citizen, but he expresses them occupying a statutory position (which is identified at the end of his article). This certainly gets the attention that opinions of lesser Indians do not. His article makes certain claims (italicised below) about which, perhaps, he will allow a “fool” and “idiot” to comment -


The killing of nearly 2,000 Muslims in 2002 in Gujarat.


This is a figure bandied about by foreign agencies and our secular activists funded by them.  The (Congress) Government of India's report for the post-Godhra violence is 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims killed in Gujarat [5] Or perhaps Katju does not believe his own government!


The truth today is that Muslims in Gujarat are terrorised and afraid that if they speak out against the horrors of 2002 they may be attacked and victimised. In the whole of India, Muslims (who number over 200 million) are solidly against Mr. Modi (though there are a handful of Muslims who for some reason disagree).


This “truth” explains Gujarat Muslims voting for the BJP (and not the Congress or anyone else) in numbers enough to give the BJP an overwhelming majority through elections, the freedom and fairness of which no one has challenged, not the losing parties, not the Muslims, not the Election Commission, no one except Katju with a sour-grape “everyone knew how polls were fought and won these days”!  


India is broadly a country of immigrants. 


This is notwithstanding all the scientific evidence to the contrary.[6] 


The killing of thousands of Muslims and other atrocities on them in Gujarat in 2002 can never be forgotten or forgiven. All the perfumes in Arabia cannot wash away the stain on Mr. Modi in this connection... It is also said that Mr. Modi had no hand in the killings, and it is also said that he had not been found guilty by any court of law. I do not want to comment on our judiciary, but I certainly do not buy the story that Mr. Modi had no hand in the events of 2002. He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time when horrible events happened on such a large scale. Can it be believed that he had no hand in them? At least I find this impossible to believe. 


Apart from the lack of faith Katju reveals in his erstwhile Supreme Court colleagues, an Indian does not have to be a “fool” or “idiot” to note that this could apply with even greater force to late Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress Party and the killing of thousands of Sikhs. Yet Katju appears never to have questioned the continuing silence over this of People Like Him (neither “fools” nor “idiots”), and why the Sikhs are still crying for justice.  


To my mind development can have only one meaning, and that is raising the standard of living of the masses.


Certainly. Perhaps Katju could advise us “fools” and “idiots” about our national political parties with an effective record here. Does he mean Congress that has dominated the Indian polity for most of our Independence has been instrumental in encouraging casteism (votebank politics), communalism (1984 anti-Sikh; Christian evangelism; Muslim appeasement; Muslim illegal immigration that the Supreme Court calls  “external aggression”), and is now popularly considered as heading the most corrupt government in free India’s history?


I appeal to the people of India to consider all this if they are really concerned about the nation’s future. Otherwise they may make the same mistake which the Germans made in 1933.


Katju calls the people of India “fools” and “idiots” and then “appeals” to the “fools” and “idiots” to agree with him?


Well, the National Know-All has spoken. He knows he knows what is best for us Indian “fools” and “idiots” and “the nation's future”. Indian “fools” and “idiots” can only reply through the ballot box.


Here are the five characteristics of a fool - haughtiness, bad mouthing, uncontrollable anger, strongly held views, and intolerance of opinions held by others: 


murkhasya pamcha chihanaani garvo durvachanam tathaa

krodhashcha drudhavaadashcha paravaakyeshvanadarah [7]

To paraphrase Edmund Burke, a big mouth and a small brain go ill together.[8] Readers can decide for themselves who really is the fool here. And Katju may not have to wait till 2014 to see whether his eloquence has swayed those whom he considers mentally backward.[9] 


Katju clearly considers himself mentally forward.[10] Doubtless he will be familiar with three Sanskrit sayings:


naminti phalino vrikshaa namanti gunino janaah

The branches of a tree laden with fruit bend downward just as the highly cultivated persons bow down out of respect to others.


aathmachitram na jananti parachidranusarinah

They no not know their own defects who search for the defects of others.


sampurnakumbho na karoti shabdam ardhoghato ghoshamupaiti nunam

vidvaan kulIno na karoti garva gunairvihinaa bahu jalpayamti

A fully filled water pitcher does not make as much noise as a half-filled one. A virtuous and sage person born in a good family is free of pride while those devoid of good qualities keep babbling like the half filled water pitcher. 


The Press Council requires that the Press “scrupulously adhere to accepted norms of journalistic ethics and maintain high standards of professional conduct”. It informs us that “Parliament embarked on a search for a meticulous formula which would ensure uncompromising impartiality and fairness in the selection of Chairman…. The Council has been adorned by a galaxy of distinguished judges, eminent editors, leading newspaper owners and managers, well-known working journalists and leaders of journalistic movement and renowned litterateurs, lawyers and educationists… The Council got its direction from them and amply benefited from their vast knowledge and wisdom”[11] 


Katju notes that “almost every section of society is regulated. Lawyers are a free profession, but their profession is regulated inasmuch as their licence can be suspended or cancelled by the Bar Council for professional misconduct. Similarly the licences of doctors, chartered accountants, etc, can be suspended / cancelled by their regulatory bodies. Judges of the Supreme Court or the High Court can be impeached by Parliament for misconduct. But the media claims that no action should be taken against it for violating journalistic ethics. Why? In a democracy everyone has to be accountable”. [12]


So, in our democracy, to whom is the PCI Chairman accountable? No one. What’s sauce for other geese is not sauce for this gander!


Katju may fancy himself an Abou Ben Adhem, but there can be no doubt that he is not displaying political neutrality or any kind of uncompromising impartiality. There can be no doubt that the standards the PCI expects from the Press are not to be expected from its current Chairman. There can be no doubt that he is using his statutory identity to play partisan politics. Professional ethics would require him to resign first. Unfortunately, the PCI Act has no provision for impeachment of its Chairman, because Katju’s is a fit case for impeachment.


In his main article under discussion here, Katju makes a reference to Kristallnacht. Katju belongs to a community that already suffered its own Kristallnacht (pogrom) and is now refugee in its own country. And if Katju ever spoke out against those who, in Radha Rajan’s words, “emptied the Kashmir Valley of all Hindus”, this appears a well-kept secret. 


Katju prides himself on his rational mind. A cuttingly perceptive comment was made by another young student - “but if all the sycophants will act rationally, who will feed the poor and hungry Italians?”[13] Who, indeed! 


The bruyat satyam apriyam is that Katju wants us fools and idiots to continue doing so, who else? 






3] .  The only examples of superstition he gives are from Hinduism. He makes no reference to the superstitions of a parthenogenetic birth, flying horses, and other such “miracles” essential to Christianity and Islam - - and it doesn’t need rocket science to understand why.

4] .

5] ; .  He also believes that “upto 1857 communalism was almost non-existent in India” – . He needs to familiarize himself with the research by SR Goel on Hindu temples and Koenraad Elst on negationism.

6] ; ; - see also ; ; ; .

7] ;

8] NS Rajaram (webmail), who also comments on Mr Katju’s “response to Modi's electoral success: `everyone knew how polls are fought and won these days’ so do away with elections and bring back Emergency Rule by the family who gave Katju this job….. At least Modi got where he is by getting elected by the people; Katju by polishing the right people”

9] “80% of our people are poor, which is largely because of the mental backwardness of most (not all) of us” - 

10] “A well-read and erudite person.  He is loved by young and old for his erudition and vast knowledge of diverse subjects including law, literature, philosophy, jurisprudence, social science, history etc.” – from his official bio-data at .    

11] - its “History” page.


13] Thus, for example, ;; “When Manmohan Singh attended the Euro Economic Summit he generously announced a $12 billion gift to protect the Euro! Who was the main beneficiary? You guessed it - Italy, on the verge of collapse after the meltdown in Greece… ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME” – NS Rajaram (webmail).


The author is a retired IAS officer

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