Justice Karnan row: Supreme Court raises doubts over Calcutta HC judge's sanity, says orders passed by him invalid

In a fresh turn to a bitter war raging between the Supreme Court of India and Justice CS Karnan, the apex court has raised doubts over Calcutta High Court judge's sanity.

A seven-member bench of the Supreme Court has ordered a medical examination for Karnan on 4 May, to ascertain whether the high court judge is mentally ill. The medical board, to be set up by the government hospital in Kolkata, will have to submit its report in the Supreme Court by 8 May.

"No one can say such things and get away," a report in Hindustan Times quoted the Supreme Court bench as saying after Karnan did not heed summons to appear before it.

CS Karnan. Bar and Bench website.

CS Karnan. Bar and Bench website.

The Supreme Court has also asked the West Bengal DGP to form a team of police officers to assist the medical board in examining Justice Karnan. The apex court has given Karnan another chance to file his response to the order, adding that if Karnan decides not to file his response, the court would presume that he has nothing to say.

Taking a stern approach against the rebel high court judge, the apex court also directed all courts, tribunals, and commissions across the country not to consider any order passed by Karnan after 8 February, when it had restrained him from taking up judicial work.

Justice Karnan in January had named 20 "corrupt judges", seeking probe against them to curb "high corruption" in the judiciary. The Supreme Court took this as contempt of court and issued a contempt notice on 10 March to Karnan for writing letters casting aspersions on several judges. It had also said Justice Karnan would not discharge any judicial and administrative functions during the pendency of the proceedings.

After Karnan failed to appear before the bench hearing the contempt proceedings, the Supreme Court served a bailable warrant to the sitting high court judge on 17 march to ensure his presence before the court.

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.

Within a couple of hours after the Supreme Court passed this order, Justice Karnan spoke to the media at his residence in Newtown of North East Kolkata and asked President Pranab Mukherjee to recall the "unconstitutional" and "illegally issued" warrant, arguing contempt proceedings cannot be initiated against a sitting high court judge.

"It is unconstitutional... Only a motion of impeachment can be initiated against a sitting judge of the higher judiciary before the Parliament after due enquiry under the Judges Enquiry Act.

"Consequently I ask the President of India to recall the bailable warrant illegally issued by the Supreme Court against me and lift non-work allotment ban of portfolio allocation," he said.

Signing a suo-motu order before the mediapersons, and issued to President Mukherjee and CBI director among others, Karnan directed that a case be registered under appropriate sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act and other penal provisions against the seven judges, including Chief Justice Khehar, and Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

"I direct the CBI director to register, investigate and file a report," said Karnan, mentioning that he was invoking his inherent power under the High Court to "prevent abuse of process of any court and secure ends of justice".

"I further direct the Secretary-Generals of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to place the entire facts of the case before the Speaker for appropriate enquiry under the Judges Enquiry Act," he said.

He alleged that he was being targeted after he made representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about some judges who had committed "illegal activities".

"This warrant is arbitrary, deliberately issued to ruin my life, my career. A Dalit judge (is being) prevented from doing work in a public office. That is atrocity," he said.

The bench on 8 February had directed Justice Karnan to appear in person to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: May 01, 2017 12:56 PM

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