Prabhakar Mishra,New Delhi: Friday will do down as a lnadmark day in the history of Indian judicial system. A sitting High Court judge appeared as an accused before the Supreme Court.
Controversial Calcutta High Court judge Justice C S Karnan on Friday appeared before the Supreme Court which granted him four weeks' time to respond to the contempt notice while rejecting the submission that his administrative and judicial powers be restored.
A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar took note of personal appearance of Justice Karnan, a first in the history of Indian judiciary, and asked him to respond to the allegations leveled against various judges in his several communications.
At the outset, the bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph asked Justice Karnan as to whether he was willing to tender an unconditional apology and withdraw his earlier communications in which he had made allegations against various judges.
As Justice Karnan was not forthright in his response, the bench suggested him to take time and legal assistance in responding to the question.
Justice Karnan in his response, alleged discrimination and "social boycott" by companion judges on various grounds including his caste and said that even the Supreme Court issued the contempt notice and took away his administrative and judicial rights without hearing him.
"I made complaints to the Chief Justice of India and the Prime Minister. A suo motu contempt proceeding was initiated against me. Before hearing me, my work was withdrawn. My dignity has been hurt in the eyes of general public. I am also holding a Constitutional position. Do I have any respect, or dignity?" Justice Karnan said.
He said police officials had entered his office to serve the warrant and since he is a sitting judge holding a Constitutional office, "the insult is not only to me, but to the entire judiciary".
To this the bench said that earlier, it had issued notice to Justice Karnan and when he failed to appear before it then only it issued a bailable warrant against him.
"When we had issued notice to you, it was served. You did not enter appearance. It is a normal procedure. You did not appear that's why bailable warrant was issued. We are not saying you are an accused. Despite being a judge and understanding all the consequences, you did not appear," the bench told Justice Karnan.
What happened outside the court shocked the lawyer fraternity.Justice Kanan virtually passed an order against the 7 judges of the bench saying that from April 3 these 7 judges will not be assigned any judicial or administrative work. What Justice Kanan meant by this, is difficult to understand.
With PTI inputs