By: Rohith Gutta
September 15 2023
Screenshots of the post (Source: Facebook/WhatsApp)
Justice Katju made this remark in May 2017, when then government under Chandrababu Naidu arrested a cartoonist and a software employee.
What is the claim?
A photo circulating on social media platforms such as Meta and WhatsApp shows former Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju allegedly demanding imposition of the President’s Rule in Andhra Pradesh after the arrest of former chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Naidu was arrested in connection with misapproproation of funds from the Skill Development Corporation that allegedly took place during his tenure as chief minister between 2014 and 2019. According to a report in The Hindu, he was arrested on September 9 and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days by an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) court in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
A Facebook user shared a photo of Katju on September 14 with title text on the image in Telugu which reads, “An ex-judge of the Supreme Court of India wrote a letter to the President and the Prime Minister (translated from English).” The text in blue reads, “There is lawlessness in Andhra Pradesh. Freedom of Expression in shackles. Personal Freedoms are violated. There is a violation of the Constitution (translated from Telugu).” The red text splashed across the map of the state reads, “President’s Rule should be immediately imposed (translated).” An archive of the post can be found here. The claim is also viral on WhatsApp.
Screenshots of the post on Facebook and WhatsApp (Source: Facebook/WhatsApp/Modified by Logically Facts)
This post was shared days after Naidu's arrest. However, this demand by Katju is from May 2017, and he made no such demands recently.
What did we find?
When we looked for news reports about Katju demanding the imposition of President’s Rule in Andhra Pradesh, we found no such recent reports. However, the former Supreme Court judge made such a demand in May 2017.
On May 16, 2017, Katju shared a letter he wrote on his Facebook profile on May 14, 2017, to the prime minister and the Indian president, demanding the imposition of the President’s Rule in Andhra Pradesh, arguing that authorities arresting a cartoonist for publishing cartoons against Naidu and his son was "unconstitutional, autocratic, and undemocratic act" claiming "it is evident that the present A.P. Govt. cannot be run in accordance with the Constitution, and under Article 356 of the Constitution in such an event President's rule should be imposed in the state.”
The letter shared on his Facebook profile in 2017 (Source: Facebook/Markandey Katju)
President’s Rule refers to the “suspension of a state government and the imposition of direct rule of the Centre,” invoked under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution. The article allows the president to “assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State.”
Various news organizations, such as The Hindu and The News Minute, published articles on this letter. A report published in The Hindu on May 17, 2017, stated: “Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju has requested President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi through Twitter to impose President’s Rule in Andhra Pradesh by dismissing the Chandrababu Naidu government and dissolving the Legislative Assembly.”
Similarly, a report published in The News Minute on May 19, 2017, mentioned Katju’s letter. The same report mentioned the state government arrested two people within a week — A Ravikiran, a satirist, and I Ravindra, a software employee — for allegedly posting objectionable comments against then Payakaraopeta Member of Legislative Assembly V Anitha, who represented the TDP.
Following his open letter, Katju posted a poll on his X (formerly Twitter) on May 17, 2017, asking, “Shud President's Rule under Article 356 be imposed in A.P. for flouting Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution by arresting cartoonist Ravi Kiran?”
Katju is known to make such demands for imposing the President’s Rule. On October 17, 2016, he wrote to the Tamil Nadu home minister that he would demand President’s Rule in Tamil Nadu. He posted a copy of the letter on his X account on October 17, 2016.
There are no reports of Katju making any such demand in the last few days about Andhra Pradesh. While Katju has previously made such demands on his social media profiles, his Facebook and X accounts do not have any such recent letters or demands.
An old remark of Katju in 2017 seeking the imposition of President’s Rule in Andhra Pradesh has been shared as a recent demand made by him. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.