Supreme Court issues warrant against Calcutta high court judge C S Karnan

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday took a stern view of Calcutta high court judge C S Karnan for defying its direction to present himself in court and, in an unprecedented decision, issued a bailable warrant against the serving judge.



Karnan’s presence is required in the SC as he is facing contempt proceedings for levelling allegations against the SC and his former colleagues in the Madras high court.The court rejected a request from Karnan to meet the Chief Justice and senior judges of the SC, noting that it could not be treated as a response to the notice issued to him. It also saw reports that the judge was passing orders from his house as a “prank”.

A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar decided it had had enough of Karnan’s defiant ways and acted tough as he refused to comply with two SC orders seeking his personal appearance despite a notice being served on him.

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The court rejected a request from Karnan to meet the Chief Justice and senior judges of the SC, noting that it could not be treated as a response to the notice issued to him. It also saw reports that the judge was passing orders from his house as a “prank”.

A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar decided it had had enough of Karnan’s defiant ways and acted tough as he refused to comply with two SC orders seeking his personal appearance despite a notice being served on him.

The court said it was left with no option but to issue a warrant against him to secure his presence in the court on the next date of hearing on March 31. This is the first time that a sitting judge of the higher judiciary is facing contempt proceedings and the apex court has been forced to issue a warrant against a judge.

Karnan has consistently claimed that he is a victim of caste bias and accused his colleagues of discriminating against him. He has claimed that the proceedings against him are vitiated by the same sentiment.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the bench, also including Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph, that Karnan had refused to mend his ways and there is no let-up in his contemptuous behaviour as he recently passed an order against the SC order on the “suicide note” of former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Kalikho Pul in which allegations were levelled against certain judges.

The AG said he had talked to the registrar general of the Calcutta high court, who confirmed that the order was passed by Karnan at his home but it was not sent to HC.

The bench, however, refused to take note of the incident, saying it might be a “prank”, but decided to lean on the judge. It issued a bailable warrant on a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and asked the West Bengal DGP to serve it to the judge. The CJI said that Karnan had sought a meeting with him and fellow judges to discuss the allegations levelled by him but it could not be accepted as his response to the court’s notice.

“It would be pertinent to mention that the registry of this court received a fax message from Justice C S Karnan, dated March 8, seeking a meeting with the Chief Justice and the judges of this court, so as to discuss certain administrative issues expressed therein, which primarily seem to reflect the allegations levelled by him against certain named judges. The above fax message cannot be considered as a response of Justice Karnan, either to the contempt petition, or to the notice served upon him,” the bench said.

“In view of the above, there is no other alternative but to seek the presence of Justice C S Karnan by issuing bailable warrants. Ordered accordingly. Bailable warrants in the sum of Rs 10,000 in the nature of a personal bond to the satisfaction of the arresting officer be issued to ensure the presence of Justice Karnan in this court on March 31 at 10.30am,” the bench said in its order after holding a brief 15-minute hearing.

The apex court will have no option but to issue a non-bailable warrant against Karnan if he fails to appear on March 31.

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