In a first, SC issues contempt notice to HC judge who wrote to PM about corruption

In a first, SC issues contempt notice to HC judge who wrote to PM about corruption
Supreme Court (inset: Justice CS Karnan)

In a first, the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued contempt notice to Justice CS Karnan, a sitting judge of the Calcutta High Court, and ordered him to refrain from discharging any judicial or administrative functions going forward.

Justice Karnan had recently written to the Prime Minister, levelling corruption charges against former Judges of the Supreme Court and sitting judges of Madras High Court, and asked him to order a probe into the charges.

The letter, sent on January 23, read “high corruption in the judiciary is still being perpetrated in an arbitrary fashion and without fear”. It also named a High Court Chief Justice who was due for elevation to the top court.

The seven judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India and other senior judges, is hearing the contempt case suo motu. It is the first time such proceedings have been ordered against a sitting judge of an appellate court.

The bench directed Justice Karnan to appear before them on the next date of hearing, February 13, and explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him. It further ordered that no judicial and administrative work be given to him.

During today’s hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi stated the the top court must set an example so that citizens get a message that the court would not hesitate in taking action against even its own.

This is not the first time Justice Karnan has stirred controversy. Earlier, when he was a judge at Madras High Court, he stayed the transfer ordered by the Supreme Court collegium transferring him to Calcutta High Court, but later apologized to SC for it.

Further, the High Court had also submitted that the judge did not vacate the government accommodation in Chennai although he was obligated to do so within one month from the date he ceased to be a judge of the Madras High Court.

Karnan, meanwhile, has alleged that he is being persecuted for being a Dalit and will appear in the apex court on February 13 to argue the case himself.

Back in 2013, the judge had passed a order saying if a couple of legal age indulged in sexual gratification, it would be considered as a legal marriage and that they would be termed as husband and wife. Following the uproar over the judgement, he passed another order aimed at silencing detractors.

In 2011, he lodged a complaint with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes alleging that he was abused by fellow judge in 2011 because he was a Dalit.

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