For the first time in history, a bench of senior most judges of Supreme Court today initiate suo motu contempt action against sitting High Court judge.
The unprecedented move will see the seven senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of India, drawing up contempt proceedings against Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan.
A high court judge can be removed only through impeachment by Parliament. Therefore, the course of action available with the apex court would include issuing judicial orders to withdraw Justice Karnan’s judicial powers and stop allocation of any work to him, besides issuing restraint orders against his power to initiate suo motu proceedings.
WHO IS C S KARNAN?
Justice Chinnaswamy Swaminathan Karnan hails from Cuddalore district. He has served as a Judge at the Madras High Court for the last 8 years and gaining steadily in the field of Judicial assignments and reform. He was transferred to Calcutta High Court in March 2016.
WHAT’S THE MATTER?
A fortnight ago, Justice Karnan had written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to take action against what he described as “high corruption at the judiciary” , the judge furnished “an initial list of corrupt judges” and named 20 judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.
At Madras High Court on responding to a PIL he had ruled that if a couple of legal age indulges in sexual gratification, it will be considered a valid marriage and that they can be termed husband and wife.
He once addressed a press conference at his chamber to allege that a fellow judge sitting cross-legged next to him at a meeting had touched him with his shoes deliberately.
Previously he launched a direct attack on Chief Justice of India , alleging he had “usurped” the powers of the collegium in deciding the names for appointment of judges in High Court. He also defied the SC by staying an order transferring him to the Calcutta HC by Chief Justice of India.
While the apex court noted the application moved by senior advocate K K Venugopal which said Justice Karnan, on receipt of the transfer order, had suo motu decided to pass an order against his own transfer.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Judicial and administrative work from Karnan was withdrawn but the Supreme Court allowed him to contest the transfer petition. This is the first time that a sitting judge is contesting such orders.