SC warrant against HC judge who hits back: it’s caste bias

Alleging that he was “being targeted for being a Dalit”, Justice Karnan said that the Constitution clearly underlined that the Supreme Court was neither a master nor a high court its servant.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: March 11, 2017 8:12 am
 Supreme Court, high court judge, Calcutta High court judge, JS Khehar, contempt notice, West Bengal police, arrest of sitting high court judge, India news, Indian Express Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan (Source: ANI)

INVOKING THE possibility of arresting a sitting high court judge — a first in Indian legal history — the Supreme Court Friday issued a bailable warrant against Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan for failing to show up in court to respond to a contempt notice. A seven-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, asked the West Bengal Police DGP to serve the warrant on the judge and ensure his presence on March 31.

Hours after this order, Justice Karnan addressed the media in Kolkata and alleged that the seven judges were out to “ruin his life” through orders which were “arbitrary” and “without any authority”. Alleging that he was “being targeted for being a Dalit”, Justice Karnan said that the Constitution clearly underlined that the Supreme Court was neither a master nor a high court its servant.

Drawing up suo motu contempt proceedings, the seven-judge Bench had issued a show-cause notice under contempt of court charges to Justice Karnan on February 8 and February 13. The notices had gone to the judge with a specific direction to appear in person and explain his contemptuous conduct of writing letters, levelling allegations of corruption against several sitting and retired apex court and high court judges.

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Noting Justice Karnan’s non-appearance in court Friday, the Bench ordered: “In view of the above, there is no other alternative but to seek the presence of Shri 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 31.03.2017, at 10.30 am.”

If Justice Karnan declines to furnish a personal bond, the DGP of the state will have no option but to arrest him and produce him in the apex court on March 31. Such an eventuality would make it an unprecedented episode when a sitting HC judge would be arrested. A high court judge can be removed only through impeachment by Parliament.

When the judges assembled on Friday to hear the case, the Bench was informed by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the notice has been duly served upon Justice Karnan but he was not present in court. He said that Supreme Court rules provided for issuance of a bailable warrant to secure his presence on the next date.

The A-G also pointed out that despite suspension of his judicial and administrative powers by an order of this Bench, the High Court judge has apparently admitted for hearing a PIL seeking inquiry into a note purportedly left behind by former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, who allegedly committed suicide on August 9 last year.

In a 60-page note in Hindi, Pul purportedly wrote about his commitment to probity and alleged corruption by a range of public figures. His allegations named former and serving CJI, Supreme Court judges, senior law officers, politicians and other persons holding high office.

“Justice Karnan reportedly agreed with the PIL petitioner, who happens to be his lawyer in a matter in the Supreme Court, that this Bench’s order withdrawing his judicial power was null and void,” said Rohatgi.

At this, the Bench replied that this could be a “prank”, too, since Justice Karnan has sent a fax, asking for a meeting with the CJI and other judges in the top court to buttress his request for restoration of his administrative and judicial powers.

“So, if he already had decided that our order was null and void, he never had to write to us for restoration of his powers,” said the Bench. The AG replied that although the Calcutta HC registry is yet to receive this order from Justice Karnan, fact of the matter remained that the HC judge had not complied with the order to show up.

The Bench then passed its order of issuing the warrant against Justice Karnan while noting that his fax message could not be considered as a response “either to the contempt petition or to the notice served upon him.” The Bench also comprised Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph.

On January 23, Justice Karnan had written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to take action against what he described as “high corruption at the judiciary”. In this letter, the judge furnished “an initial list of corrupt judges”, and named 20 judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.

During his stint as a judge in the Madras High Court, Justice Karnan had stayed his own transfer to the Calcutta High Court and moved out only after the Supreme Court and the President stepped in, and issued directions. He has alleged that he was facing discrimination based on caste, and that other judges humiliated him.

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First Published on: March 11, 2017 4:46 am
  1. M
    Mohmed
    Mar 11, 2017 at 3:05 am
    Mr Karnan Sir if you are not guilty why are you afraid of appearing before the Supreme court.If you have not committed any offence why this Dalit card?
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    1. S
      Soundar
      Mar 10, 2017 at 6:08 pm
      If a HC judge can not be removed except impeachment by parliament how the Supreme Court take contempt action as well as deprive of his judicial duties? If Justice Karnan done any mistake then the Supreme Court can recommend impeachment action but threatening a HC judge is against all sort of norms but revenge action for exposing corruption in judiciary especially HC/ SC judges.
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      1. A
        Ashir
        Mar 11, 2017 at 1:44 am
        India is changing ... We have seen all dirty politicians through out the post independednd India .. We have no trust on any of them .But there was reason for what we still felt secure and comfortable living n this country ,that's independent bodies like EC,and SC .we always felt secure under these bodies as we were sure that these bodies cannot be bribed or dominated or controlled by governing party ..But it's being changed now ... God save India
        Reply
        1. K
          K Ramanujam
          Mar 10, 2017 at 4:33 pm
          When getting promotion Justice Karanan he invokes that he is a dalit and get priority but when getting arrest warrant,he says he is a dalit. So the word dalit can be used to suit his convenience. Shame on Justice Karnan,supposed to be a learned judge.
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          1. P
            Praveen Chopra
            Mar 11, 2017 at 4:43 am
            It's a failure of the judicial system that such a person has risen to a position of a High Court Judge. Nevertheless he must be forced to appear before the Supreme Court and face contempt proceedings.
            Reply
            1. H
              Harish
              Mar 10, 2017 at 4:13 pm
              Just wonder. If HC Judge cannot be removed except by impeachment by the Parliament, how can his duties as a Judge be withdrawn by SC? Is it not as good (or Bad) as Removal?
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              1. M
                Manas Ranjan
                Mar 11, 2017 at 5:05 am
                Is there any reservation in promotion and in judiciary? You should make your fact clear .He got the position by his merit .Upercaste could not digest that so discrimination.
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                1. M
                  Manas Ranjan
                  Mar 11, 2017 at 5:08 am
                  On same ground why justice kaju not faced same action? Why only this judge? Because he is dalit and kaju was uppercast? Please explain.
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                  1. S
                    Sankaran Krishnan
                    Mar 11, 2017 at 3:24 am
                    It is highly objectionable to bring the caste line after attaining the Judge post and if he had not done any thing wrong he should face the Supreme Court and prove them wrong and if not if he is mudslinging them it affects the overall performance of the Judiciary and be ready for that and the caste line will not help you to end the crisis !!!
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                    1. K
                      KSRao
                      Mar 11, 2017 at 6:13 am
                      Justice Karnan has invited the misery on himself with intemperate outbursts, unusual for a sitting judge. There does not seem to be any caste bias. The court cannot be a mute spectator.
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                        Mukund Phadnavis
                        Mar 10, 2017 at 4:27 pm
                        Supreme court and also cj of highcourt can withraw his administrative and judicial powers in public interest. The atude of a consutional authority like judge of h c here is unprecedented. How was such person recommended by cj of chennai hc for appointment? This exposed the rougues within system. He must be dealt with in stringent manner to send signals to all concerned. Parliament should take issue of his impeachment after this issue is decided by supreme court.
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                        1. O
                          OmKar
                          Mar 11, 2017 at 2:45 am
                          He is becoming a laughing stone and as he used the same cast to be a judge. Now the same he is claiming is cause of harment what a farce.
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                          1. P
                            Pankaj
                            Mar 11, 2017 at 5:46 am
                            I confirmed these are the second cl citizen of India, Muslims, Dalit, Bhudhist, Christians, Adivasis, Sikh. They should not cry of their atrocities on them. In order to control we appoint high castes employees for the position of Superintendent of Police, IAS officers, Intelligence Agencies etc. These above communities had to accept and live accordingly without any disturbance, ofcourse media will support our cause.
                            Reply
                            1. P
                              Pankaj
                              Mar 11, 2017 at 5:53 am
                              There is no doubt about that caste will not play the rule. Indian administration is inherited full of poison of the caste, those created from legs of Brahma cannot rule the nation, they have to do job of cleaning waste and keep happy to the majority community. RSS will for sure implement this bringing RAM Rajya.
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                              1. P
                                Pankaj
                                Mar 11, 2017 at 6:58 am
                                You dalit shut your mouth, you deserve not by human but also from god.
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                                1. R
                                  Raja
                                  Mar 11, 2017 at 3:18 am
                                  Reporting corruption must be backed by solid evidence. This is particularly imperative when a judge is involved, since a judge insists on evidence while examining the merit of a case.
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                                  1. R
                                    Raja
                                    Mar 11, 2017 at 4:16 am
                                    Whenever a member of the SC/ST/OBC community or the Muslim community is implicated in a wrongdoing, he immediately takes recourse to victimhood based on caste/religious bias against him. The pattern is so unmistakable that the entire phenomenon has become predictable. For example, when match-fixing charges were brought against Mohammad Azharuddin, he started claiming that he was indicted because he was a Muslim. Justice Karnan is no exception. Instead of appealing to base motives, the man should use his legal mettle to establish his innocence in the Supreme Court.
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                                    1. R
                                      Ram
                                      Mar 11, 2017 at 3:52 am
                                      The issue appears to be confusing and misleading too. In fact the real issue is never revealed and something frivilous matter surfaces and the actual facts remain under the carpet. This issue also will defuse and die naturally. Whenever the matter revolves around a SC/ST, nothing happens. Suicide of former CM of Arunachal Pradesh Mr Pul, his PIL that too in Hindi, Justice Karnan being a SC is born to be discriminated, he should understand certain facts of the life. Nothing new.
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        Sachin
                                        Mar 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm
                                        Sad day for India.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;SC Judges should have immediately initiated an impartial commission to investigate the allegations of corruption charges. Such a move would have brought back trust into the system and full transparency. Instead, they have gone after the judge who has asked for the investigation?!!lt;br/gt;This very act of SC Judges shows that there are some among them who are afraid of being exposed and do not want such an investigation.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;It is really sad that Indian justice system, while doing a great job in many cases, is still completely at the mercy of magistrates and judges who have been known to p unilateral decisions favouring certain individuals. And there is no authority instead in fixing this.
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                                        1. S
                                          Shyamal Ganguly
                                          Mar 11, 2017 at 1:44 am
                                          'Narad Narad. The SC JUDGES always thought that they are above humans. I admire this judge to be courageous and challenge the BRIBE TAKERS who have nurtured the family of GADDHI PARIVAR all these 65 years. Let the judges tell us the status of 2G, CWG, COALGATE. DAYANIDHIMARAN, NATIONAL HERALD and supply answer to people of India - are they clean? How much did they get paid? Good going Mr. Karnan. Fight to the end. Lots of people will join you. India has lots of racists just like USA.''
                                          Reply
                                          1. S
                                            Shyamal Ganguly
                                            Mar 11, 2017 at 1:42 am
                                            Right on. SC Judges of India are all corrupt and bribe takers. Explain status"2G, CWG, COALGATE, MARAN, HERALD" why are these in limbo?
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