Even as the fracas surrounding the selection of judges to the Madras High Court has refused to die down, the Chief Justice of the high court and a Dalit judge have engaged in a spat, approaching the Chief Justice of India and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes respectively against each other.
Justice C S Karnan, a judge from the Dalit community, has complained to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes against Chief Justice R K Agrawal, accusing him of “discrimination” and “partisan treatment”.
According to Karnan, he was relieved of the responsibilities of Karur district where he had undertaken efforts to inaugurate a court complex.
After invitations were sent out with his name, Karnan said, his portfolio was changed from Karur to Sivaganga district. Eventually, the inauguration was done by a caste Hindu judge who was given Karur district portfolio, he said.
“His Lordship with no rhyme or reason or any suitable explanation for his action had blatantly and openly dumped all my initial work, I feel very humiliated with his unbecoming action that is known to all,” alleged Karnan, charging Chief Justice Agrawal of “displaying a form of discrimination without any reason”.
Karnan has sent his complaint to the President, Prime Minister, Union law and home ministers, and Dalit politicians like BSP chief Mayawati and LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan.
Although dated January 6, a copy of the complaint was circulated to the media on Thursday after reports appeared in a section of the media that Chief Justice Agrawal had shot off a letter to the Chief Justice of India complaining against Karnan’s behaviour and seeking his transfer.
The letter alleged that Karnan had barged into the Chief Justice’s chamber, hurling a “volley of invectives” at him. Agrawal said in his letter that Karnan wanted an immediate change in his portfolio to which he replied that it would be considered at the time of changing the roster — from March 14. But Karnan insisted on an immediate change and added that he would return the next day if the request was not considered.
“The conduct of Mr Justice Karnan, as the present incident shows, was not only unbecoming of a judge, but also undermined the dignity of the Chief Justice, and brings a bad name to the institution,” Agrawal said in his letter to CJI P Sathasivam, terming it as the “most unfortunate incident in my whole career as a judge”.
Claiming that he has received “a lot of complaints” against Karnan from other judges and advocates, Agrawal sought his transfer out of the high court.
The letter was incidentally written on January 8, the day Karnan created a furor by walking into an open court to express unhappiness over the list of judge-probables selected by a collegium comprising the high court Chief Justice and two other senior-most judges. When Karnan walked in on that day to term the selection “unfair”, a division bench was hearing a petition moved by a powerful section of the advocates who have been on war path against the selection of a few among the 12 probables.
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