The Supreme Court Monday observed that it could issue a non-bailable warrant against Calcutta High Court Judge C S Karnan if he fails to show up in compliance of the contempt proceedings initiated against him for writing contentious letters against sitting and retired apex court and high court judges. Justice Karnan was on February 8 directed to show up in the court to respond to a contempt notice, issued by a suo motu proceeding for writing letters, in which he levelled corruption charges against several sitting and retired judges. But he was not present in the court Monday, nor was there any communication from him regarding his absence.
The judge’s absence prompted the seven-judge bench, led by Chief Justice J S Khehar, to mull various options available under the law. “We will have to wait for his reply first. We have two options: Once we have granted him time to show cause, we will give him some more time. Second option is that we will issue a bailable or a non-bailable warrant against him,” observed Justice Dipak Misra, who was also on the bench.
The court said that since the “consequences are grave”, it would give Justice Karnan adequate time to prepare his reply to the showcause notice under the Contempt of Courts Act and present his case. “We had fixed this matter on February 13 in our previous order because there was already another matter in this court wherein he was supposed to appear on the same day. But now, we will give him three weeks more,” it added. During the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi brought on record a letter reportedly written by Justice Karnan to the court registry, making several accusations against the judges on the bench that had issued the contempt notice. “He has brought down the dignity of this court and is acting in a fashion that might shake the public confidence in the system. Let formal charges be framed against him and ask him to respond,” said the Attorney General.
The bench, however, said that the stage of framing charges had not been reached and that Justice Karnan has been supplied with all the contentious documents to enable him to respond. The court fixed the matter for hearing on March 10.