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Medical board to examine the Calcutta HC judge on May 4, report by May 8

The Supreme Court has finally decided to act against Justice CS Karnan of the Calcutta HIGH Court, in respect to the continual derogatory and sometimes absurd comments and “orders” by the judge against the apex court bench and other judges. The bench, which includes Chief Justice JS Khehar, decided on May 1 that Justice Karnan has to undergo a medical examination.

In the order, Justice Khehar said: “Press statements made by him (Justice Karnan) indicate that he may not be in a position to defend himself in his current position and we, therefore, consider it in the fitness of things that he be medically examined.

“We direct a board of doctors be formed and examine him and submit the report. The committee shall examine him on May 4. The DGP of West Bengal is to form the team to assist the medical board to carry out the orders of this court,” the order said.

The court also ordered that all “judgements” by Justice Karnan will be treated as invalid.

The matter came up for serious discussion at the apex court. The issue had started with Justice Karnan having sent a letter to the prime minister some time back, alleging that 20 Supreme Court and high court judges were involved in corruption. He also alleged that he was being discriminated by brother judges because he belonged to the Scheduled Caste.

The issue came to such a pass that the apex court was forced to take all work away from him and a seven-judge constitution bench—with the senior-most judges—was formed to look into the matter, about which other judges had started complaining.

A suo motu contempt petition notice against judge Karnan had been issued by the bench on the recommendation of the Attorney General who stated that the large number of communications/letters by the judge were contemptuous. The court directed the judge to refrain from judicial and administrative work and asked the registrar to recover all the files and directed him to be present before the court in person on February 13.

The summons issued to Justice Karnan were completely ignored, and a bailable warrant was the only piece of Supreme Court document that the judge cared to look into, though not really accepting it.

Judge Karnan then started a new farce, holding “court” at his official residence in Kolkata and passing “orders” which had little do with the functioning of the court or otherwise. He had been stripped of all official authority and work by the apex court bench anyway.

Then Judge Karnan even “summoned” the entire constitution bench to “appear” before him and explain its position. He also forbade all those judges from leaving the country. This probably went beyond normal behaviour of any sane human being, leave alone a judge.

The Supreme Court bench, comprising, apart from the Chief Justice (CJI), Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Kurian Joseph, had granted final time for justice Karnan to file his reply in writing.

Karnan finds SC judgement ‘ridiculous’

In Kolkata, Justice Karnan reacted in a nonchalant manner to the Supreme Court directive that a medical board examine him. In an interview to a television channel, the judge not only termed the order “ridiculous and unusual”, he also said: “Am I mentally unstable? Who is the Supreme Court to judge that I have a mental illness? The seven judges looking at my case are corrupt. If the DGP acts on me without my consent, I will pass an order against him. He should stay within limits… I won’t submit to any treatment.”

He has also been shown as saying: “The seven judges are protecting other corrupt judges who are awaiting promotion. This erroneous order must not be carried out. The DGP should not come to me.”

On May 1, Justice Karnan was again not present. The following exchanges happened at the apex court:

Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi: “He is not present and he has been passing orders against hon’ble judges after the last hearing.”

CJI: “On February 8 we had directed him to forthwith refrain from any administrative or judicial work. So what he has done after that order is contemptuous. His conduct is ex facie contempt.”

AG: “His mental balance is lost.”

CJI: “If it is so, he is not responsible.”

AG: “He is a judge and was doing work. He cannot say that. One day he is fine next day he is not. Calling SC judges accused. Calling judges rapists.

The court has been more than patient. If your lordships don’t act now what will happen later?”

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, who had appeared in a connected matter at the Madras High Court said: “It is clear that he cannot be taken seriously. He is retiring in June. Otherwise it should have been impeachment. What purpose will be served by putting him in jail? He is not in a sane position. Adjourn the matter post his retirement. Look at his letters, they are so atrocious. It shows he is not in a position to think.”

CJI: “Can anyone say such things against us and get away?”

Thereafter, the judges went into confabulation, following which the CJI said: “This court should never be restrained from dealing with any opposition to this court. Retirement will not make this court’s proceeding infructuous.”

AG: “Contempt proceedings are for public confidence to be restored. Seven judges are sitting and passing orders and he is not bothered. He has been calling press conferences and passing orders.”

The court passed the order thereafter. It said: “While issuing notice to Justice Karnan this court had directed that he will refrain from judicial or administrative work. He was directed to return all the files to the registrar. Ever since this proceedings, Justice Karnan has been making press statements. But after the last hearing, he seems to have passed judicial orders. We hereby refrain all courts and tribunal from taking cognizance of any orders passed by him.

The medical board will have to submit its report on or before May 8.

The order also said: Justice Karnan may submit his reply on or before the date. If he chooses not to, it would be assumed that he doesn’t have any response.”

The matter has been listed for May 9.

Meanwhile, advocate Suri, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), requested to be impleaded since it is an important matter. The bench allowed the SCBA to be impleaded to assist the court.

—By India legal Bureau

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