Supreme Court strips High Court judge of judicial, administrative work

By: | Published: February 9, 2017 2:46 AM

This is the first time that the top court of the country has issued a contempt notice against a serving judge of another court.

It also asked him to be personally present in the court on February 13 to explain why contempt action should not be taken against him. (PTI)It also asked him to be personally present in the court on February 13 to explain why contempt action should not be taken against him. (PTI)

In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stripped sitting Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan of all judicial and administrative work for levelling allegations against several former judges of the apex court and sitting judges of Madras High Court. It also asked him to be personally present in the court on February 13 to explain why contempt action should not be taken against him.

This is the first time that the top court of the country has issued a contempt notice against a serving judge of another court.

A seven-judge bench led by Chief Justice J S Khehar took suo moto cognizance of the matter based on his conduct while he was serving as a judge in Madras HC. He was, thereafter transferred, to the Calcutta HC.

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Justice Karnan had recently written to various dignitaries, including the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the Union law minister and others levelling corruption charges against former judges of the SC and sitting judges of Madras High Court and asked the Prime Minister to order an enquiry.

Urging the court to make an example of him for bringing the court into disrepute, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the apex court has powers to take action against contempt not only related to the apex court but also across other courts in the country.

Court must take action and set an example as this brings disrepute to the administration of the process of justice. The court must issue a notice and in exercise of its constitutional jurisdiction direct the Chief Justice of Calcutta HC to not assign any work to Justice Karnan,” Rohatgi said.

To this, the court responded by saying that it would choose to be very careful in the way the case is handled and would require assistance from members of the bar in evaluating the course ahead in this peculiar situation.

The court added that it did not want to be presumptuous and assume that the letters had been written by Justice Karnan.

He is also directed to return all judicial and administrative files in his possession to the Registrar General of the High Court immediately,” the bench also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph said. Justice Karnan has been told to appear before the bench on the next date of hearing, February 13.

Earlier, as a judge at the Madras HC, Justice Karnan had stayed his transfer, ordered by the Supreme Court collegium, to Calcutta HC. The judge later had to apologise to the Supreme Court.

Also, the Madras High Court had filed an application in the Supreme Court alleging that Justice Karnan has in his possession, twelve files of the Madras High Court which have to be returned.

Further, the HC had also submitted that the judge did not vacate the government accommodation in Chennai though he was obligated to do so within one month from the date he ceased to be a judge of the Madras High Court.

He also created a stir when he lodged a complaint with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes alleging that he was abused by fellow judge in 2011 because he was a dalit.

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