SCtoHear SuoMotu Contempt Issue Against HC Judge
New Del h i : A seven-judge Supreme Court bench will hear a suo motu contempt petition initiated against controversial sitting Calcutta High Court j udge S Karnan over his intemperate remarks against several judges in Madras and Calcutta High Courts, and impropriety of some of his judicial orders.
In an event unprecedented in judicial history, Justice Karnan will have to appear personally to defend himself before the seven-judge bench. If the charges against him are proved, Justice Karnan stands to be sentenced to a six month term in jail, or a fine, or both, in a judicial first. No judge has ever been sent to jail for contempt or been fined in India. Justice Karnan, a Dalit, has in the past alleged caste discrimination and victimisation.
Following an intemperate outburst in the Madras High Court he was transferred to Calcutta High Court as a disciplinary measure. At first he had refused to go, and stayed the collegium order transferring him, but later accepted the order and moved to the Calcutta High Court. He courted controversy there too, dealing with cases out of turn, taking upon himself cases he was not assigned to by the chief justice who is the master of the court roster, and rescinded bail orders passed by fellow judges.
Insiders said caste fault lines are deep in the judiciary with a Reddy judgereplacingaReddyjudgeinthe courts in the south. “There could be sometruthinhisallegationsof havingtofacecasteprejudice,”aperson said on the condition of anonymity. But the impunity with which Justice Karnan flouted judicial discipline of never cancelling orders of equivalent benches, and not calling for cases out of turn, could not be countenanced, the person said. “That was sure to invite disciplinary action sooner or later.” Among other things, Justice Karnanhaslevelledahostof allegations of corruption and malfeasance against several sitting and retired judges. He even wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi levelling allegations of corruption against the then sitting Madras High Court Chief Justice.