A seven judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar deferred the hearing of the contempt case against Calcutta High Court judge Justice C S Karnan after he failed to appear.
Though Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi insisted that contempt charges should be framed against Justice Karnan, the bench was of the view that one more opportunity should be given to him.
At the outset Rihatgi said Karnan was bound to appear. Referring to the letter written by Justice Karnan to SC the AG said "it only aggravated the issue as there are many more grave allegations".
HOW DID LETTER LEAK ? CJI
At this point CJI Khehar asked "who has given the letter. How is it in public domain?" Rohatgi said it was being circulated on Whatsapp.
AG said instant action was required and it also be seen that court also acts against its own.
"The defiance continues. He has not come to court and not given any reason why he is not appearing" , agreeing to it CJI Khehar said "the letter also does not say he is not going to appear".
AG continued to insist that charges must be framed as he brought the judiciary to disrepute but the bench was unmoved.
"KARNAN NEEDS COMPASSION"CJI slammed Advocate Mathew Nedumpara who tried to argue that Justice karnan "needed a patient hearing and compassion".
Warning that nobody would be allowed as intervenors the CJI said those " who try to disrupt the case in future shall understand that we can proceed against them in consonance with law"
TODAY'S ORDER" Notice against Sri Justice Karnan has been duely served.A communication has been received from him which was made to Secretary General. Despite due notice, Justice Karnan has not entered appearance. No one has been authorised by him to represent him today. We are not aware of the reason for his non-appearance. So we are not proceeding with the matter further today.Post it after three weeks. It may be taken up on March 10"
Facing notice and summons from the apex court, Karnan, had earlier through a letter lashed out at the apex court, accusing it of harbouring a caste bias against him.
Brushing aside the contempt proceedings Justice Karnan has also said the proceedings initiated by the bench of seven senior most judges of the apex court of Chief Justice J S Khehar and justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph are “not maintainable under law” against a sitting high court judge and asked the top court to refer the matter to parliament.
In the letter written to the Secretary General, Karnan accused the Chief Justice-led bench of upper caste bias in initiating proceedings as he belonged to the Dalit community.
He also went on to allege that the court order amounted to an offence under the SC and ST (Prevention of) Atrocities Act and challenged the court to refer his case to Parliament.
He argued that since the order against him was “harsh“, the contempt case should be heard after CJI Khehar retired or placed before Parliament if this was not possible.
Karnan, who has been at the centre of several controversies, was issued a notice and asked to present himself in the Supreme Court on February 13 to explain “scurrilous“ allegations against sitting and former judges. He was charged with impeding justice administration and bringing discredit to the judicial institution of the country by writing scandalous letters about sitting and retired judges.
Recently Justice Karnan had written a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi listing the names of 20 judges of various High Court and Supreme Court leveling corruption allegations against them and seeking a CBI probe.
He had earlier written to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, levelling charges of anti-Dalit bias against the chief justice of the Madras high court in 2014 when he was a member of the bench there.
Referring to the February 8 order that also stripped him of judicial and administrative work, Karnan said: “The characteristic of this order clearly shows that the upper caste judges are taking law into their hands and misusing their judicial power by operating the same against a SCST judge (Dalit) with mala fide intention to get rid of him."
Read the order here.
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