The ruling Congress on Monday criticised Arun Jaitley for slamming Press Cuncil of India (PCI) chairman Justice Markandey Katju and said the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader's statement was 'highly condemnable'.
Speaking to media, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said: "I am extremely surprised by the statement of Arun Jaitley who has been one of the leading political leader of the country. The kind of statement that he has made against Justice Katju is highly condemnable."
"Justice Katju is a man who has been an outstanding judge in the Supreme Court and the High Court and he has been always been impartial. All his life Katju has been unbiased," Singh said.
"Why did Arun Jaitley keep quiet when Katju brought out issues against CMs of Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh, against the Home Ministry in case of the arrest of Iftekhar Geelani, he kept quiet on those occasions. He has given the statement just because Justice Katju has raised the developmental issue of Gujarat," he said.
Slamming Katju for his recent article on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the Gujarat riots and demanding his ouster, Jaitley had said he should resign from his position before making political comments.
The BJP on Monday said Katju was making ´unsolicited remarks´ and he should resign from his position.
"Mr Katju is appointed by the government...His bias has been clearly exposed here," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Prasad Rudy said while addressing a press conference on Monday.
"Justice Katju is making unsolicited remarks," he said.
Rudy said: "Katju free to voice any opinion but he has to surely relinquish his position as Chairman of Press Council of India."
In a hard-hitting article posted on the BJP website on Sunday after the remarks of Justice Katju in media, Jaitley said: "Should not a former judge who currently occupies a quasi judicial office as Chairman of the Press Council of India, either quit before actively participating in politics or be sacked. Retired judges must remember that the rental for occupying a Lutyen's bunglow post retirement has to be political neutrality not political participation."
"The last week witnessed a selective targeting of two popular non-Congress State Governments and its leaders by Justice Markandey Katju, a retired judge of the Supreme Court , presently the Chairperson of the Press Council of India. He released a draft report on behalf of the Press Council of India alleging that media in Bihar was not independent. He followed it up with an article in 'The Hindu' attacking the Gujarat Government and its' Chief Minister Narender Modi," said Jaitley.
Responding to Jaitley´s attack, Katju slammed the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha saying he is "unfit for politics".