Justice Karnan vs Supreme Court: saga of a defiant judge

Justice Karnan fails to show up in SC

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi.  

After briefly toying with options like issuing a bailable warrant, the Supreme Court on Monday decided to wait another three weeks for sitting Calcutta High Court judge, C.S. Karnan, to explain his defiance of a judicial direction to be present in court.

Justice Karnan had been asked to be present in court on Monday.

A seven-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said Justice Karnan had not indicated any reason for his non-appearance in a letter he wrote to the Registrar General of the Supreme Court on February 10, after a contempt notice was issued against him on February 8.

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

C.S. Karnan

C.S. Karnan  


Frame charge: A-G

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi advised the Bench to formally frame criminal contempt charge against Justice Karnan. Referring to Justice Karnan’s February 10 letter, which stated that the contempt proceedings violated the principles of natural justice and made disparaging remarks about the judiciary, Mr. Rohatgi said show cause notice should now be issued on the specific charge that it was “calculated to lower the dignity of the judicial institution.”

To this, Justice Misra said there were two options available: “One, give him another opportunity to come and explain himself. Two, issue bailable warrant against him.”

But Chief Justice Khehar sought to tread with caution. “For the time being, we will defer the proceedings. Consequences are great. We will ask him some questions and let him respond to these questions. Then we will proceed.”

In his submission, Mr. Rohatgi said the February 10 letter “aggravated” the position in the case. “The letter is on WhatsApp. It is with the media. It is written on his letterhead. Rantings like this of a senior judge does not behold the institution... public confidence requires the court to act against its own. We are sorry that this has come to such a pass,” he said.

“He has not said he will not appear,” Chief Justice Khehar responded. “He has said that he was not granted appropriate time. If it is a reasonable request, we will do so.”

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 3:17:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Justice-Karnan-fails-to-show-up-in-SC/article17295774.ece

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