Calcutta High Court Judge CS Karnan has been issued a contempt notice for accusing several apex court and high court judges of corruption. A Supreme Court bench has asked Karnan to be in court on February 13 in connection with the notice. Chief Justice of India JS Khehar was part of the seven-judge bench that issued the notice to Karnan. The top court had taken suo motu cognisance of the matter.
This is believed to be the first time such a contempt notice has been issued to a sitting justice. “We have to be very careful. We will seek the assistance of the Bar to know how we should proceed,” the bench said. A sitting high court judge can only be removed from his post by a resolution passed by both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, reported The Indian Express.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the court must act against the judge because his actions had affected the reputation of the judiciary. “Let a message be sent to the people in this country that this court won’t hesitate to act even against one of its own in the interest of the administration of justice,” Rohatgi said.
Justice Karnan has also been asked to return all the files pertaining to cases he had been hearing. The notice came only days after Justice Karnan wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to do something about the “high corruption at the judiciary”. On January 23, he made public the letter containing “an initial list of corrupt judges”. The list had 20 names on it, including sitting judges at the Supreme Court various high courts.
Before Calcutta High Court, Justice Karnan was in the Madras High Court, and his time there was also marred by controversies. He had stayed his own transfer prompting the Supreme Court to intervene in 2016. He had then sought an explanation from the Chief of Justice of India about his transfer. He had also sought permission from the Supreme Court to appear in person to argue in the case.
In June 2013, he had passed a verdict ruling that if a couple of legal age engaged in a sexual relationship, they should be deemed a married couple. When he faced strong criticism for the verdict, he issued a gag order. He had also in the past complained to the National Commission for SC/STs and the press and accused his colleagues of humiliating him for being a Dalit.