SC Refuses to Restore Justice Karnan's Judicial Power, gives him Another Month
In a first in Indian judicial history, sitting High Court judge C Karnan appeared before a seven member bench of the Supreme Court on Friday to answer charges of contempt levelled against him.
File image of Justice CS Karnan. (Image: PTI)
New Delhi: In a first in Indian judicial history, sitting High Court judge C Karnan appeared before a seven member bench of the Supreme Court on Friday to answer charges of contempt levelled against him.
Justice Karnan offered to give an “unconditional” apology provided his judicial work was restored but the SC refused this offer and gave the judge another four weeks to file a reply in the contempt notice.
On March 10, the Supreme Court had issued a bailable warrant against Justice Karnan to ensure his presence before it on March 31 in a contempt case. A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar had taken strong note of Justice Karnan's non-appearance, despite being served with the contempt notice and had asked the Director General of West Bengal Police to execute the warrants on the judge to ensure his presence.
Following the warrant, not only did Justice Karnan state that he was directing the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation to file a case against the seven judges of the apex court but also issued an "order" of registration of a case under the appropriate sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 on Chief Justice of India Justice JS Khehar and six other judges.
On Friday, though Justice Karnan submitted his defence with utmost respect to the bench, contrary to the public perception he had created about himself, he maintained he would not appear before the court for the next hearing on May 1 if his judicial powers are not restored.
In a much heated courtroom drama, Justice Karnan submitted that he was fighting for general welfare and not for any “personal gain.” After repeating his allegations of corruption against judges, Justice Karnan drew the attention of the court to his fight. Although Justice Karnan did not play the Dalit card till the end, he said that his complaints were never addressed.
However, the seven judge bench felt the unconditional apology rendered by Justice Karnan was not ‘unconditional’ per se because Justice Karnan stated that he would offer apology provided he is not stripped of his judicial power.
“What you have written is contrary to what you are saying. Do you want to unconditionally apologize or do you wish to re-think? You want to apologize or you want to re-affirm your allegations? If you unconditionally apologize then the case will take a different turn but if you reiterate then there will be a trial,” said Justice Dipak Misra, as Justice Chelameshwar advised Justice Karnan to seek help of a lawyer if he is too “personally involved in the case.”
But Attorney General submitted that the contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan must be continued saying there was no question of non-comprehension on part of Justice Karnan and that he was aware of what he was doing.
“There are conditions in his apology letter and this is not possible. In contempt no conditions can exist,” said Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.
Even the letter written by Justice Karnan seeking resignation of seven judges was read out in the court. However SC maintained that the bailable warrant was issued only because he did not appear for the earlier hearings and “not because he was a terrorist.”
Also Read: Justice CS Karnan Plays Dalit Card, Says Contempt Proceedings 'Not Sustainable'
But Justice Karnan maintained that his dignity in public was tarnished. “I am a respectable person and the police can go to an accused but not to the office of a constitutional person,” he said.
The apex court allowed Justice Karnan to respond to the contempt notice within four weeks by filing an affidavit.
“He should not be permitted to discharge his judicial or administrative work,” the court said .(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat of the state Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you put on the psephologist's hat. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections. Elections = News18)
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