In a renewed confrontation with the Supreme Court, Calcutta High Court judge Justice C.S. Karnan on Thursday passed a “judicial order” against seven Supreme Court judges, including Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, for “violating” the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and directed them to “appear” before him on April 28.
It is not clear if the “order” has any legal validity since the apex court had taken away administrative and judicial powers from Karnan.
The seven judges had issued a suo motu contempt order against Karnan in February after he had in January named 20 “corrupt judges”, seeking probe against them to curb “high corruption” in the Indian judiciary.
Subsequently, Justice Karnan appeared before the apex court on March 31 following a bailable warrant issued against him by the apex court. The seven justices gave the Calcutta High Court judge four weeks to respond to the contempt notice issued to him. Even as he presented himself before the Supreme Court justices, Karnan told them that he would not respond to the notice.
On Thursday, Karnan said in his purported order: “…I am directing the Hon’ble seven judges to give your replies in person or through your council (Counsel) regarding declaration of guilt and quantum of punishment by 28.04.2017 at 11.30 a.m. at my residence which has now become my make-shift court at Rosedale, New Town, Kolkata.”
Karnan held a press conference to give details of this to the media.
In his rare defiance of Supreme Court justices, Karnan said he had “pronounced a judgement wherein the seven judges are accused under the Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribes Atrocities Act, 1989.” He said the justices had “committed heinous crime.”
The strong language used, and judicial overreach may not sit well with the apex court.
The Supreme Court, while issuing Justice Karnan a contempt notice, had said he would not discharge any judicial and administrative functions during the pendency of the proceedings. Justice Karnan said the order against him was passed “without following due procedure of law while violating the Principle of Natural Justice…”
In furtherance of his so-called order, Karnan said, “The Hon’ble seven judges… are not permitted to move any court against this Court’s order since the first accused namely the CJI (Chief Justice of India) is controlling all courts in India.”
Asked whether Justice Karnan, as a sitting judge of Calcutta High Court, had the jurisdiction to pass such an order against the apex court judges, he said: “Their jurisdiction and my jurisdiction are different.”
Karnan said while appearing before the Supreme Court bench in relation to the contempt notice, he had sought some clarification from the seven judge bench.
“What relief they are seeking against me. They did not answer,” he added.
Karnan is required to be present before the apex court justices by the end of the month.