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Justice Karnan passes order against SC bench after contempt case hearing, restrains 7 judges from performing judicial work

Just Hours After The Dramatic Hearing On The Contempt Plea Against Him In The Supreme Court, Embattled Calcutta High Court Chief Justice CS Karnan Passed On Friday A Judgment Sitting In New Delhi Restraining The Seven Apex Court From Performing Their Judicial And Administrative Work.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Kanishk Sharma | Updated on: 31 Mar 2017, 10:58:10 PM
A file photo of justice Karnan.

New Delhi:

Just hours after the dramatic hearing on the contempt plea against him in the Supreme Court, embattled Calcutta high court chief justice CS Karnan passed on Friday a judgment sitting in New Delhi restraining the seven apex court judges from performing their judicial and administrative work.

Karnan had appeared in the Supreme Court in the contempt case against him, a first in Indian judicial history, and sought restoration of his powers as a condition for his re-appearance, but the plea was rejected. 

A defiant justice Karnan told the court he would not appear before it again even if he was arrested and put in jail. A seven-judge bench headed by chief justice JS Khehar, granted him four weeks to respond to the contempt notice while refusing to restore his judicial and administrative powers as a serving high court judge.

The bench, at the outset, referred to justice Karnan's March 23 communication, in which he had sought to withdraw his earlier letters allegedly casting aspersions on other judges, and asked him whether he wanted to tender "unconditional apology". "Can we take it that you are reiterating whatever you have said in your communication (of March 23)? Should we record this? Be careful in your response.

Read | Defamation case: SC asks Justice Karnan to submit written submission within four weeks 

"First tell us if you affirm whatever you have said? If you will say allow me to think, we will allow you," the bench, also comprising justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur, PC Ghose and Kurian Joseph, said. 

"Actually, I am not a contemnor. My work has been taken away for me without any notice to me or without giving me an opportunity to be heard. For the last two months, I have gone through so much, people ask me questions about it and I have no answer. You all have taken a suo motu contempt proceeding against me, you have issued notice to me but at the same time you fixed the punishment by taking away my work," Justice Karnan said.

To this, the bench said he was not answering the question whether he was tendering the apology and suggested that he may take time or legal help for formulating the response.

Read | Jethmalani asks Justice Karnan to withdraw his words against judiciary 

The bench went to the extent of suggesting justice Karnan, who had defiantly refused to appear before the bench despite summons, that he may file some medical records pertaining to his mental condition. 

"It is just a suggestion, if you feel that you are not mentally fit to respond to us, you can give medical records," it said. "I do not need medical records. Without hearing me, how can this be done," justice Karnan replied at the fag end of the hearing and sought restoration of his powers, but the demand was rejected. Justice Karnan kept arguing in support of his demand even when the judges were rising. Later, he raised his voice and said, "Please don't punish me like this without hearing my side. Otherwise, I will not appear. Principle of natural justice is not this. "Please record that I will not appear before you on the next date. You can arrest me and put me in jail." 

Justice Karnan referred to the contents of his various letters, in which he had complained about fellow judges, and said no enquires were made into those and instead he was targeted by his colleagues due to his caste. 

"I am fighting these cases and therefore I had made some comments against certain judges. I can prove my case... I am only fighting against the irregularities and my complaints have been pending since five-six years. I am facing social boycott by judges...I am an innocent judge. I have not committed any mistake," he said. 

With Justice Karnan not coming up with specific answer to the court's queries, the bench said,"You are not answering our question. We want you to answer very calmly. If you will say yes, I stand by my remarks and I affirm whatever I have said, we will record it, and if you will say I want to think, we will allow you to think and will give you time...We want you to be very relaxed while taking your decision." 

"Today, if you will withdraw the interim order, I will file a detailed counter. Please permit me to do my work," justice Karnan said, pleading for restoration of his powers. The judge referred to the humiliation of going through the process of securing bail and said the police officials, who do not hold any constitutional office, entered his colony and residence (for serving a warrant). "Before hearing me, my work was withdrawn. My dignity has been spoiled in the eyes of the general public. I am also holding a constitutional position. Do I have no respect, no dignity?," he said, adding "the insult is not only to me, but to the entire judiciary.

Read | Supreme Court issues bailable warrant against Justice Karnan in contempt case 

"Am I a terrorist that police knocked on my doors to serve a warrant?" "When we had issued notice to you, it was served. You did not enter appearance. It is a normal procedure. You did not appear that's why bailable warrant was issued. We are not saying you are an accused. "Despite being a judge and understanding all consequences, you did not appear...You are not a terrorist. Bailable warrant was issued as you did not appear on summons. You know it," the bench said. 

It then offered more time to justice Karnan to respond to the contempt notice. "Give me my work. If the contempt proceedings are proved against me, you can punish me in whatever way you want. My deep request to my lords is that please give me my work..If my work is restored, I will do my work effectively," the judge said. 

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that justice Karnan was still levelling wild allegations against the judges in the courtroom. "I personally feel that he has stayed his own transfer order and if he is not in a position to comprehend, he cannot have stayed his own transfer. Right from the beginning, this gentleman has re-affirmed and named those judges," he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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First Published : 31 Mar 2017, 10:45:00 PM