Justice Karnan vs Supreme Court: saga of a defiant judge

Arrest me, imprison me, Karnan dares SC

Calcutta High Court Judge C.S. Karnan addresses a press conference outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi on Friday.

Calcutta High Court Judge C.S. Karnan addresses a press conference outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

Justice Karnan accuses the Supreme Court of robbing him of dignity.

In an openly confrontational hearing, controversial Calcutta High Court judge, Justice C.S. Karnan on Friday challenged a seven judge Bench of the Supreme Court to “arrest and put him in jail” for contempt.

Countering an order of the Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar to file an affidavit explaining his disparaging remarks and allegations of corruption against fellow High Courts and Supreme Court judges, Justice Karnan accused the Bench of robbing him of his mental and physical balance and his dignity by stripping him of his judicial and administrative powers as a High Court judge.

Justice Karnan was appearing for the first time before the Bench in the contempt action against him. He had refused to appear before it despite repeated notice from the apex court summoning him. Finally, the court had to issue a bailable warrant against him, which was served on him by a police team led by the West Bengal Director General of Police.

Justice Karnan, appearing for himself in a packed courtroom, shouted at the Bench that he will not come before it again.

“Had I not come today, you would have issued non-bailable warrant against me... What way am I an offender or an anti-social element or a terrorist for you... you should protect my dignity, my personal life has been destroyed, police entered my colony and people are watching me,” Justice Karnan submitted.

“We issued bailable warrants against you Mr. Karnan not because you were an accused but because you did not enter procedure. You are not a terrorist,” Chief Justice Khehar responded.

When the court gave Justice Karnan the choice between rendering an unconditional apology for his scurrilous letters and accusations against the judiciary, Justice Karnan rebutted saying they should first restore his powers as a judge in order for him to be in a position to prove his allegations.

The allegations of Justice Karnan had prompted the contempt action — the first in the court's history against a sitting High Court judge.

Finally, after a 45-minute hearing, Chief Justice Khehar recorded that Justice Karnan was replying neither coherently nor affirmatively about the accusations he had made, thus giving him an option to pen them down in an affidavit to be filed in the next four weeks.

The court refused his plea to restore his judicial and administrative duties.

“I have lost my physical and mental balance... If you do not restore my work, you can very well now impose any punishment you want,” Justice Karnan said.

“If you feel you are not mentally fit to respond to us in an affidavit, you give us a medical certificate,” Chief Justice Khehar replied.

“Medical certificate is not required. You have disturbed me like anything,” Justice Karnan told the Bench.

The hearing started with Justice Karnan explaining that his “fight is not against judiciary or for personal gains”.

“My fight is against corruption,” Justice Karnan submitted, handing over a letter concerning allegations against 20 judges to the Bench.

“You think about what you want to say. If you want legal help, I suggest you take legal advice. You should be properly prepared,” Justice Jasti Chelameswar asked.

“If you unconditionally apologise, this matter will take a different course. If you choose to accuse 'a' or 'y', the matter will be adjudicated,” Justice Dipak Misra observed.

The Bench also comprised Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, P.C. Ghose and Kurian Joseph.

When the Chief Justice asked Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi whether Justice Karnan was in a position to comprehend his predicament, he said there was no question of “non-comprehension” here.

“This gentleman has appeared before My Lords and affirmed and again affirmed that he will continue to make insinuations till the judicial institution is damned. He says ‘I will render unconditional apology if I have committed contempt’. Apology for contempt cannot be conditional,” Mr. Rohatgi submitted.

Meanwhile, in a separate petition filed by Madras HC, Justice Karnan said he has returned his official bungalow.

The next hearing is on May 1, 2017.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 9:32:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/arrest-and-put-me-in-jail-karnan-to-sc/article17749689.ece

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