Justice Karnan appears before SC bench

Justice Karnan appears before SC bench
Controversial Calcutta High Court judge Justice C S Karnan on Friday entered into the annals of history by becoming the first judge to appear before the Supreme Court on bailable warrants.

A defiant Justice Karnan dared the Supreme Court to arrest him and put him behind the bars, declaring he would not appear before it on the next date of hearing. In the beginning, a seven-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice J S Khehar noted his presence, but rejected his plea for restoration of judicial and administrative powers. The court, however, granted him four weeks to respond to the contempt notice, issued first on February 8.

Justice Karnan, who was earlier transferred from Madras to Calcutta high court, has been asked to reply why contempt action should not be taken against him for making allegations against various judges in his several communications.

Noting his presence before the court, the bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph, asked Justice Karnan if he was willing to tender an unconditional apology and withdraw his earlier communications. Justice Karnan, who had alleged discrimination and social boycott by companion judges on various grounds including his being Dalit, said, “I am also holding constitutional post. My dignity has been hurt and work has been taken away without hearing me.”

The bench asked him to take time and legal assistance to respond. He, however, argued: “I made complaints to the Chief Justice of India and the prime minister. A suo motu contempt proceeding was initiated against me. Before hearing me, my work was withdrawn.”

Justice Karnan said the police entered his office to serve the warrant though he is a sitting judge holding a constitutional office. “The insult is not only to me, but to the entire judiciary,” he said. On this, the bench said it had issued notice earlier. When he failed to appear before it, only then a bailable warrant was issued. During the hearing, the bench asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi if Justice Karnan’s earlier communications could be considered. Rohatgi said such conditional apology was not to be allowed.

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