Contempt: Karnan Appears; Gets Four Weeks Time To File Written Reply [Read Order]
Calcutta High Court Judge, Justice Karnan against whom the Supreme Court has initiated contempt proceedings finally appeared before the Chief Justice-led seven judge bench today.
After an hour-long gripping exchange between Karnan and the bench Chief Justice J S Khehar gave the HC judge four weeks time to file a written reply.
"We now wish to proceed only after receiving a written response from Justice Karnan within four weeks..the response shall be by way of affidavit"the CJI said.
At this Karnan requested that his work may be restored.
"If my work is not restored give any punishment. First impose punishment. I will go to jail. If work is not restored i will not be in a position to file a reply"
CJI then said : If you feel that you are not in a mental position to reply give a medical certificate. Then we will consider".
As the bench rose after the proceedings Karnan was heard saying "I Want punishment..please record it i will not appear in next hearing if my work is not restored".
CJI had in his order refused to restore Karnans work despite his repeated requests. He had put that as a pre-condition for apologising.
In an order unprecedented in the annals of Indian judiciary, the Supreme Court had on March 10 issued bailable warrant against Karnan for non-appearance in the case wherein he has slapped with a contempt notice for writing scandalous letters leveling grave corruption charges against sitting and retired apex court judges.
Adding more drama to the entire episode Karnan, known for his several controversial acts earlier, had called a press conference in Kolkata and termed the warrant “unconstitutional” and alleged he was being targeted for being a Dalit.
“Staying” the order, he also issued an 'order' of registration of a case under the SC/ST Act against Chief Justice of India Justice J S Khehar and six other judges- Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph who had issued the bailable warrant.
The SC bench had directed the Director General of West Bengal Police to execute the warrants on Justice Karnan to ensure his presence in the Supreme Court at 10.30 AM today.
After Justice Karnan had defied the SC order by refusing to appear before it on February 13, he wrote a letter to the SC Secretary General accusing 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.
Besides writing to the PM seeking a probe against corrupt HC and SC judges, Justice Karnan, who is known for his maverick ways, had earlier controversially opposed the decision of the Collegium to transfer him to Calcutta from Madras and had himself stayed the order.
This was in February last year, when he had allegedly shouted at the Registrar cum Personal Secretary of Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul (now a SC judge) and also proceeded to suo moto take up (on the judicial side) his own transfer order.
The Supreme Court had then directed the Chief Justice of the High Court not assign any further judicial work to Justice Karnan on account of his transfer.
In between senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani wrote a scathing letter to justice Karnan calling him a “lunatic”, wondering if he was “mentally sound to discharge his duties as a judge” and asking him to pray for pardon for every “stupid action” he has so far indulged in.
Read the Order here.