Justice CS Karnan of the Calcutta High Court on Friday said the Supreme Court-issued bailable warrant against him in a contempt case was “unconstitutional” and a deliberate attempt “to ruin [his] life” as a Dalit judge.
The bailable warrant issued today... will be stayed. They have no locus standi to issue a warrant against me. It is unconstitutional.
His statements came only hours after a seven-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar asked the West Bengal police chief to serve the warrant to Justice Karnan and sought his presence before it on 31 March.
Karnan said it was an “arbitrary order deliberately issued against me to ruin my life.”
A Dalit judge (is being) prevented from doing work in a public office. That is atrocity.
He alleged that he was being targeted after he made a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about some judges who had committed “illegal activities”.
Justice Karnan’s Contemptuous Letter
Justice Karnan had in January named 20 “corrupt judges”, seeking a probe against them to curb “high corruption” in the Indian judiciary. The letter resulted in contempt proceedings against him.
After the alleged open contemptuous letters written by Justice Karnan against the Madras HC Chief Justice, addressed to the CJI, Prime Minister and others, the court had initiated proceedings against him.
The apex court had on 8 February asked Justice Karnan to appear in person and explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him. However, he failed to appear before the apex court on 13 February.
During the last hearing, senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the Registrar General of the Madras HC, had said the high court judges needed protection from Karnan's verbal abuse and wild charges.
He had said the judge concerned had levelled malicious rape charges against a sitting Madras High Court judge.
The Supreme Court had ordered warrant against him after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court that Justice Karnan had refused to appear before the court.
A Text Message From Karnan
The court said the Registry of the Supreme Court had received a text message from Justice Karnan on 8 March, “seeking a meeting with CJI and other judges so as to discuss certain administrative issues which primarily seem to reflect allegations against certain judges.”
Supreme CourtThe letter can’t be considered as response to contempt petition. In view of the above, there is no alternative but to ensure his presence in the court by issuing bailable warrant.
In February 2016, he was transferred to the Calcutta HC by the then Chief Justice of India TS Thakur. Karnan stayed his own transfer order and later apologised to the Chief Justice, saying his actions were a result of “loss of mental balance due to mental frustrations” caused due to alleged caste bias against him in the high court.
He is the first sitting judge to face contempt charges. He will also have to furnish a personal bail bond of Rs 10,000.
(With inputs from IANS)