Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan, against whom the Supreme Court had issued a contempt notice for writing letters casting aspersions on several judges, failed to appear in the court.
The Supreme Court deferred the proceedings in the case by three weeks as neither Karnan nor his lawyer appeared before it. Karnan was to appear before a constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Khehar and six other judges directed that Karnan would not discharge any judicial and administrative functions during the pendency of the proceedings.
The Supreme Court took on record letter written by Karnan to Registrar General of apex court in which he alleged victimisation for being a Dalit.
"We are not aware of reasons for his non-appearance. We, therefore, refrain from proceeding with the matter," The Supreme court said.
The Supreme Court had also directed Karnan to hand over all files relating to his judicial and administrative functions to the Registrar General of the High Court.
Besides Khehar, other judges on the bench are Justice Dipak Misra, Justice J Chelameswar, Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Kurian Joseph.
The issuance of contempt notice to Karnan assumes significance as it is for the first time in the history of the Supreme Court that it has invoked powers to initiate contempt proceedings against a sitting judge of a High Court.
Earlier on 8 February, at the outset of the hearing, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the nature of various communications by Karnan were "very very scandalous" and "embarrassing" and the "time has come for this court to act".
He urged the court to act so that a clear message should go to the citizens that the top court will not hesitate in taking action against its own judge in the High Court.
Urging the court to ask the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court not to assign Karnan any judicial or administrative work, the attorney-general said that he was through his actions "destroying the administration of justice".
The AG said this pointing out that Karnan wrote disparaging letters to the Prime Minister, Law Minister, Supreme Court Registrar about sitting and retired top court and High court judges. In case of some judges, Karnan had even levelled the allegation of corruption and caste discrimination.
Karnan had also stayed the top court collegium's decision transferring him from Madras High Court to Calcutta High Court.
AG said that the top court was empowered under Article 129 of the constitution read with Article 142(2) to punish the High Court judges and the members of the subordinate judiciary.
However, Khehar said that since it was happening for the first time and "We have to be very careful in going about it."
With inputs from agencies.
Published Date: Feb 13, 2017 12:01 PM | Updated Date: Feb 13, 2017 16:58 PM