Calcutta high court justice C S Karnan hit back at the Supreme Court on Friday, calling its warrant against him “unconstitutional” and “an attempt to ruin” his life as he was a Dalit.
“I am being targeted as I am a Dalit. This is a caste issue. The order has been deliberately issued against me. This is an attempt to ruin my life. The warrant is unconstitutional,” Karnan told the media at a hurriedly organised press conference at his residence in New Town.
A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar had issued the warrant order earlier in the day, directing Karnan’s presence on March 31 after the judge ignored earlier summons in connection with contempt proceedings initiated against him for accusing several judges of the Madras high court, where he had earlier served, and an SC judge of corruption, nepotism and casteism.
The SC said the warrant should be executed through West Bengal director general of police.
Justice Karnan also signed an order in front of reporters, directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to “register, investigate and file a report before the appropriate court of law under Article 226 read with Section 482 CrPC to prevent abuse of process of any court....”
In the same order, he also said: “I further direct the secretary generals of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to place the entire facts of the case before the Speaker for appropriate inquiry under the Judges’ Enquiry Act.”
“Consequently I direct his Excellency the President of India to recall the bailable warrant illegally issued by the Supreme Court on 10.3.2017 and lift the non-work allotment ban of portfolio allocation and file a report within seven days before this Hon’ble Court,” the order stated.
Justice Karnan had, however, sent a letter to the CJI asking him to restore his judicial and administrative powers, which the bench rejected.
Asked whether it was appropriate for a sitting judge to talk to the media on this issue, Justice Karnan said, “It is a national issue. It should reach the people. Let there be transparency. What’s the secret? Nobody takes a suo motu warrant against a sitting judge.”
The SC had on February 8 issued contempt notice to the judge and asked him to appear before it on February 13. But he did not appear and instead, wrote a letter questioning the contempt proceedings against him.
According to Karnan, only Parliament had the power to initiate action against a sitting high court judge by way of an impeachment motion.
The contempt action against him “is erroneous and has been willfully and wantonly passed with malafide intention”. Therefore, these proceedings may be referred to Parliament, where he would establish the high rate of corruption prevailing in the Madras HC, he had said in the letter.
The courts have “no power to enforce punishment against a sitting Judge of the High Court”, he had said.
The constitution bench, however, had given him another chance, albeit with a warning, and asked him to appear on Friday, which he did not do.
“We will give him one more opportunity. We want to hear him before framing charges,” the bench had said on February 13 after attorney general Mukul Rohatgi suggested the court go ahead with the proceedings in his absence.