A Madras high court judge raised the banner of revolt on Monday when he stayed his transfer ordered by the Supreme Court, demanded a written explanation from the CJI and threatened an FIR against two top court judges for their “caste bias” in shifting him to Kolkata.
The Supreme Court moved swiftly to nip justice CS Karnan’s “rebellion”. It put on hold the stay he had ordered on his transfer and also asked Madras HC chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul not to assign any work to the controversial judge, who is also locked in a running battle with his senior HC colleagues.
But an undeterred justice Karnan said, “My judicial powers are still with me. I will pass a suo motu judicial order to the Chennai city commissioner of police to register an FIR against the two (SC) judges.”
Accusing justice JS Kehar and justice R Bhanumathi of discriminating against him because he was a Dalit, justice Karnan said the two Supreme Court judges should be booked under the SC/ST (prevention of atrocities) act.
The drama started Monday morning when justice Karnan stayed a February 12 order issued by Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur-led SC collegium, transferring him to the Calcutta high court. Justice Karnan then went on to ask the CJI for a written explanation and fixed April 29 to hear the matter.
The order was in the form of a letter addressed to the CJI and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Within minutes, the top court -- taking note of senior advocate KK Venugopal’s plea -- stayed the order. A bench of justice Kehar and justice Bhanumathi also restrained him from hearing any case and permitted chief justice Kaul not to assign judicial or administrative work to him.
“…in our view it would be appropriate that justice Karnan should hear and dispose of only such matters as are specially assigned to him by the chief justice,” the bench said. All orders passed by justice Karnan after the February 12 transfer notice would remain stayed, it said.
Justice Karnan sought political support, marking copies of his judgment staying the transfer order to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati.
Asked why he had turned to politicians, justice Karnan told media that as an opposition leader Sonia would come out in his support while Paswan and Mayawati were his community leaders.
“I have a right to expose how a Dalit judge is being treated in this country. I am prepared to drag all judges concerned to Parliament for a debate,” he said.
Earlier, the Madras HC registry urged SC to stay justice Karnan’s orders threatening contempt proceedings and action against justice Kaul under the SC/ST act.
Justice Karnan said the chief justice didn’t make him a member of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy because he came from a scheduled caste. Accusing justice Kaul of caste discrimination, justice Karnan “declared” him an offender under SC/ST act. The apex court stayed that order as well.
In May, too, SC had stayed a justice Karnan’s order initiating contempt proceedings against justice Kaul for not implementing one of his orders.