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Calcutta HC judge CS Karnan fails to attend SC hearing in contempt case

New Delhi: Calcutta High Court judge CS Karnan did not appear before the Supreme Court on Monday, for a hearing contempt proceedings against him.

Karnan is accused of writing letters in which he cast aspersions on other judges. The apex court granted Karnan three more weeks to appear before it and reply to the show cause notice issued to him last week.

A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said that Justice Karnan, despite being served with the notice in the case, “has not put in an appearance.”

“Moreover, no lawyer has been appointed by him to represent him today,” the bench, also comprising Justice Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph, said.

“We are not aware of the reasons for his non-appearance. We, therefore, refrain from proceeding with the matter,” it said while deferring the matter for hearing after three weeks.

The bench on Monday also took serious note of some lawyers appearing in the matter without being authorised by Justice Karnan and said that they will be proceeded against under the law for interfering with the judicial process.

The seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on February 8 slapped a contempt notice on Karnan for his “scurrilous remarks” against judges of the Madras high court and the apex court and restrained him from any judicial or administrative work with immediate effect.

This is the first time in the country’s history that seven senior-most Supreme Court judges, convened in open court suo-motu contempt proceedings against a sitting high court judge.

The bench had asked him to appear before the apex court in person on Monday.

In 2016, Justice Karnan, who was posted in Madras high court, was transferred to Calcutta HC after he cast aspersions on many judges and even ordered a CBI probe against Madras HC’s Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

He then stayed his transfer order, forcing the Supreme Court to authorise a freeze on his functions as a judge. Later, he wrote to the Chief Justice of India, acknowledging that he had passed an “erroneous order due to his mental frustration resulting in loss of mental balance.”

Also, the Madras high court had filed an application in the Supreme Court alleging that Justice Karnan has in his possession 12 files that have to be returned to the court.

In June 2013, Justice Karnan had passed an order that ruled that if a couple of legal age indulged in sexual gratification, it would be considered as a legal marriage and they would be termed as husband and wife. Following an uproar, he passed another order putting a gag on everyone from making adverse comments.

PTI