Justice Karnan vs Supreme Court: saga of a defiant judge

SC orders Karnan to be medically examined

In focus: Calcutta High Court Judge C.S. Karnan outside the Supreme Court last month.  

Wondering whether Calcutta High Court judge Justice C.S. Karnan is “feigning mental imbalance”, a seven-judge Supreme Court Bench, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, on Monday ordered him to be medically examined by a board of doctors in Kolkata.

The order was prompted by Justice Karnan’s statements to the media against the Bench and a recent ‘purported judicial order’ directing Chief Justice Khehar and seven Supreme Court judges to appear before him in Calcutta on May 1, 2017.

“The tenor of the press briefings, as also the purported order passed by him, indicate that he may not be in a position to defend himself in the present proceedings. We, therefore, consider it in the fitness of matters to direct him to be medically examined before proceeding with the matter,” the Bench ordered.


Hours after the SC order, Justice Karnan himself issued an order directing the Director General of Police of New Delhi to produce the seven judges before a psychiatric board.

He stated that the Supreme Court’s latest order was an “insult” to a Dalit judge.

“I further direct the Director General of Police, N. Delhi (New Delhi) to take all the accused judges…and produce them to a psychiatric medical board attached to the AIIMS Hospital, N.Delhi to conduct appropriate medical tests on the accused and submit a copy of the report on or before 7.5.2017 (May 7, 2017),” Justice Karnan said.

He stated that the Supreme Court’s latest order was not only a “harassment order” against his sanity but also an “insult.” “This kind of harassment order against my sanity is an additional insult to an innocent Dalit judge who is of sound health and mind,” he said. The judge also said that his wife and two sons, who are engineers, are “very much satisfied” with his physical and mental health.

Earlier in the Supreme Court, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that Justice Karnan’s conduct since the contempt proceedings started in February 8 this year was a “gross aggravation of contempt of the Supreme Court.”

Justice Karnan had passed orders in violation of the Supreme Court’s express direction to him to refrain from judicial and administrative work during the pendency of the current contempt proceedings.

“His order directed eight judges of the Supreme Court, including all My Lords to appear before him,” Mr. Rohatgi submitted.

“That is why he is not present here despite us ordering him to be so. He is waiting for us there [Kolkata],” Chief Justice Khehar responded.

The Bench ordered Justice Karnan to be examined by a board of government doctors in Kolkata on May 4 and ordered the DGP of West Bengal to depute police personnel for the purpose.

The court directed the board to submit its report by May 8, and scheduled a hearing on May 18.

It further directed courts, commissions or authorities to not take cognisance of any order passed by Justice Karnan after February 8, 2017.

The Bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, P.C. Ghose and Kurian Joseph, disagreed with senior advocate K.K. Venugopal’s advice that since Justice Karnan was retiring in June, the contempt hearing should be deferred.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 3:48:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-orders-justice-karnan-to-be-medically-examined/article18346630.ece

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