SC takes up contempt issue against Calcutta HC judge

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Supreme Court of India.

File photo of Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court has issued a showcause notice to Calcutta High Court Judge CS Karnan after taking suo motu cognisance of its contempt. The seven judge bench, head by the CJI JS Khehar have also asked Justice Karnan to appear in person before it on Feb 13. Till then he has been directed to refrain from taking judicial and administrative work.

In an unprecedented move on Tuesday, the Supreme Court had taken up suo motu cognisance of alleged contemptuous letters written by Justice CS Karnan against the Madras High Court Chief Justice addressed to various authorities.

The apex court has turned the letters into contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan which were addressed to Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister and others.

Today, while hearing the matter, the court also directed Justice Karnan to return all judicial and administrative files in his possession to Registrar General of Calcutta HC.

“We must be as careful as we can,” said the bench, adding that it has to be “established” whether Justice Karnan wrote those communications.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi termed the public communications of Justice Karnan as “slanderous” and “disparaging” to system of administration of justice.

The seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, includes Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph.

Earlier, Justice Karnan was transferred from the Madras High Court to the Calcutta High Court for his alleged contemptuous conduct.

Justice Karnan had on February 15, 2016 stayed his transfer order after the apex court asked the Chief Justice of Madras High Court not to assign any judicial work to him.

The same day the apex court had suspended Justice Karnan’s order and made it clear that all administrative and judicial orders passed by him after the issuance of the proposal of his transfer from the Madras High Court to the Calcutta High Court shall remain stayed till further orders.

However, a week later, the judge had admitted that he had issued an “erroneous” order due to his “mental frustration resulting in the loss of his mental balance”.

(With inputs from the PTI)