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Law Ministry forwards Justice Karnan’s transfer order to PMO

Apoorva Mandhani
20 Feb 2016 4:02 AM GMT
Law Ministry forwards Justice Karnan’s transfer order to PMO
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Justice C.S. Karnan’s transfer order, shifting him from Madras High Court to Calcutta High Court, has reportedly been forwarded by the Law Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office, for “further action”.

Staying true to his penchant for controversy, Justice Karnan had earlier this week stayed the transfer order issued to him by the Supreme Court of India. He had also directed the Chief Justice of India to file the reply by April 29. You may read the LiveLaw article here.

Around the same time, the Supreme Court directed Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul to not allow Justice Karnan to deal with any more judicial work. This was after the Madras High Court Registrar General, through Senior Lawyer K.K. Venugopal submitted before a Bench headed by Justice J.S. Khehar that Justice Karnan had sent a word that he would suo motu stay his transfer order.

The affidavit stated that when the Madras HC Registrar General went to Justice Karnan’s house, he was lying down on a sofa at home and hurled at him choicest abuse in Tamil, asking him “how dare you transfer me to Calcutta?” You may read the LiveLaw article here.

More recently, a Tamil Nadu-based Hindu outfit ‘Hindu Makkal Katchi’ had even claimed that it had sent a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to Justice C.S. Karnan to facilitate travel to a country of his choice, where there’s no caste system. This was pursuant to the comments made by Justice Karnan, who belongs to a Dalit community, on Monday. “I’m ashamed to have born in India. I want to move to a country without caste system. I’ve decided to give up my birth right,” he had said. You may read the LiveLaw article here.

LiveLaw had reported last week that the CJI has ordered transfer of Justice Karnan to Calcutta High Court.

Earlier, in a letter to the Chief Justice, Justice Karnan had alleged that he was left out of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy as he was from the scheduled caste. He had claimed that all participants were from the upper caste and that his name was removed in order to make way for a Junior Judge who belonged to the upper caste.

In May 2015, Justice Karnan had passed another order requesting the Chief Justice to extend co-operation “without any interference with my Court’s proceedings and its Judicial Power in order to maintain the decorum of the Court and avoid an unhealthy practice of Judiciary in the interest of the general public. He also requested the Chief to avoid ego and stop acting in an autocratic manner to protect democracy.”

The controversy had started with Chief Justice Sanjay Kaul constituting the recruitment committee comprising of Justices V. Dhanapalan, R. Sudhakar, D. Hariparanthaman, N. Kirubakaran and R. Mala to interview candidates for selection as civil judges. The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission chairman and other officers were to be part of the selection committee and it was scheduled to start oral interview of candidates from April 15 till April 21.

On April 16, 2015, Justice Karnan initiated suo motu proceedings and passed a judicial order questioning Justice Dhanapalan’s inclusion in the committee. He alleged that latter had produced “bogus educational qualifications” about his bachelor and masters degree in law, he had no locus standi to conduct interview. He had even directed the CBI to inquire into his educational qualifications.

He also alleged that inclusion of Justices Sudhakar and Hariparanthaman, who hailed from the same community besides being relatives, would send a wrong signal about the fairness of selection. He went on to stay the CJ’s administrative order and restrained the public service commission chairman from conducting the interview of candidates for civil judge posts.

“In order to control the mal-administration of My Lord Chief Justice, I am passing this suo-motu judicial order in the interest of justice invoking Article 226 of the Constitution to restore the confidence in the Madras high court and confidence with the general public,” he said and ordered that two judges must be from minorities communities, one from Muslim community and another from Christian community, to give a fair representation to all communities in the recruitment committee.

On April 17, 2015, Justice Karnan’s suo motu order was placed before a division bench of Justices S. Tamilvanan and C.T. Selvam, which stayed the April 16 order.

Despite the division bench order, Justice Karnan directed the Registry to place the matter before him on judicial side on April 30. On that day, he reiterated his earlier order and threatened the Chief Justice with contempt of court proceedings.

The Madras High Court registry moved the Supreme Court seeking stay of the order passed by Justice Karnan. The Supreme Court had stayed the order passed by Justice Karnan.

In January, 2014 as well, Justice Karnan had made an attempt to stall his probable transfer to another High Court in a letter addressed to the then Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam and the then Chief Justice of Madras High Court, Justice R.K. Agrawal. He had claimed that maintaining that his presence in Madras High Court was important, as he obliged to prove his allegations against the Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the High Court. You may read the LiveLaw story here.

Justice Karnan has been notorious for making serious allegations against his other fellow Judges as well. In May last year, he had alleged that a Judge of the Madras High Court had assaulted an intern within the High Court premises. “I have preferred several representations to your Lordship regarding the conduction of enquiry on the custodial rape committed by Mr. Justice XXXXXX (name withheld) on the law intern Miss XXXXX (name withheld) at the Madras High Court,” he had written to the Chief Justice of the High Court. You may read the LiveLaw article here.

In another letter written to the Chief Justice of India, he had criticized the collegium system. The Collegium system, according to Justice Karnan, “acted on its own views or whims and fancies to say the least” which “disturbs” both his mind and “Judicial work”. In the letter, he praised the government’s move to constitute the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) and said that is “most appropriate for the functioning of the judiciary in an unfettered manner and to render justice.” You may read the LiveLaw article here.

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