Embattled Calcutta high court judge CS Karnan on Friday “rejected” a bailable warrant by the Supreme Court, moments after it was delivered by police directing him to appear before a seven-judge bench of the top court.
Karnan is facing the top court’s ire for accusing several Madras high court judges of corruption.
Bengal director general of police Surajit Kar Purakayastha, Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar and another senior IPS officer went to the New Town residence of justice Karnan to serve the bailable warrant.
The top court issued the warrant directing him to appear before it on March 31.
“I rejected the same (the bailable warrant) after assigning valid reasons. This kind of demeaning acts from your lordships and further perpetrating the Atrocities Act is absolutely out of law to the utter embarrassment of a Dalit judge,” justice Karan wrote in his response.
“Hence, I request you to stop your further harassment in order to uphold the dignity and decorum of our courts.”
He wrote this to the seven judges of the Supreme Court bench and called it his “order” on the warrant.
While talking to the media at his residence on Friday, Karnan said: “By ordering this bailable warrant against me the Supreme Court has made itself a laughing stock before the whole world.”
When asked what he would do if the Supreme Court takes stronger action, he said,”I am seeking legal opinion.”
On March 10, Karnan had hit back at the apex court, calling its warrant against him “unconstitutional” and “an attempt to ruin” his life because he was a Dalit.
Karnan had signed an order in front of the media at his residence, 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 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.”
On April 11, Karnan stepped up his tirade against the Supreme Court and his fellow judges by releasing before the media written allegations against two Madas high court judges where he alleged that one had tampered records to get into service and amassed wealth through unfair means while the other had raped an intern.
Justice Karnan had made these allegations in 2013 and 2014. “I wrote to the chief justice of Madras high court but no action has been taken against them. I brought specific allegations against 20 judges. But while those 20 are silent a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court issued a warrant against me. Today I openly admit that Indian judiciary is corrupt,” Karnan said at a press conference.
“These seven judges don’t know law. The Supreme Court did not apply mind. That’s why public confidence (in the judiciary) is decreasing day by day,” he said.
Asked whether he would appear before the Supreme Court on or before the deadline (March 31), Karnan said: “Why? For what purpose? This is a wrong order. It is out of law.”
“I am a sitting high court judge. Any place where I sit and pass an order becomes the court,” Karnan said.
On March 10, a seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar had issued the warrant, 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 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.
This was the not first time Karnan took on colleagues in front of the media.
In 2011, he called a press conference to accuse a fellow high court judge of caste discrimination on the ground that the judge who sat next to him “deliberately” touched him with his foot.
In 2015, he interrupted arguments going on in another courtroom in the Madras HC regarding judicial appointments, demanding to be heard.
In April 2015, he began suo motu contempt proceedings against the chief justice of the Madras high court, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, accusing the latter of harassing and belittling him because he was a Dalit and by giving him “insignificant and dummy” portfolios. The Supreme Court stayed the same.
Karnan then accused Kaul of corruption in February last year, following which the top court transferred him that month, which Karnan issued a stay order on. When a two-judge Supreme Court bench lifted his stay order, he asked the Chennai police to book a case against the two judges under the SC/ST (atrocities) Act.
The top court threatened to haul him up for contempt for some of the statements that he made, but Karnan apologised saying that his “mental balance” was severely affected. He finally took charge at the Calcutta high court after a private meeting with then-Chief Justice of India T S Thakur.