Supreme Court of India issued an unprecedented order. It asked a sitting High Court judge to appear in person before it and explain as to why contempt proceedings be not initiated against him and forthwith restrained him from undertaking judicial and administrative work.
SC issued this order to Kolkata High Court Judge Justice C S Karnan who has been making controversial statements for years. He had once said “I am ashamed to have born in India. I want to move to a country without caste system,”. But, when the matter reached the Supreme Court, he apologized, attributing his decision to “loss of mental balance”.
A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said, “Issue notice to Justice C S Karnan. Returnable on February 13. Shree Justice C S Karnan shall forthwith refrain from handling any judicial or administrative work as may have been assigned to him,”
“He is also directed to return all judicial and administrative files in his possession to the Registrar General of the High Court immediately,” the bench also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph said.
It said, “Shree Justice C S Karnan shall remain present in person on next date to show cause.”
At the outset, Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi referred to the nature of public communications allegedly undertaken by Justice Karnan and said they are “slanderous” and “disparaging” to the system of administration of justice.
He urged the bench that it can direct Chief Justice of the High Court to restrain the judge concerned from taking up judicial and administrative work.
The court took note of his submissions and said that it has to be established whether Justice Karnan has undertaken the communications. “We must be as careful as we can,” the court said.
“It is the first time we will act against a sitting High Court judge and have to be very careful with what we settle as a precedent for times to come,” it said.
Justice Karnan was transferred from the Madras HC to the Calcutta HC for his alleged contemptuous conduct.