NEW DELHI: Defying the Supreme Court’s order, Calcutta High Court judge Justice C S Karnan did not appear before it in a contempt case initiated by the apex court, on Monday.
In an unprecedented act, the Supreme Court had issued notice to Justice Karnan on February 8 over alleged open contemptuous letters written by him against the Madras HC Chief Justice, addressed to the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and others.
However, though Justice Karnan did not appear before the seven judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, the court did not agree with Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that contempt charges may be framed against him during the day itself in his absence and decided to grant three more weeks to him to show cause.
The Bench, also comprising justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph, said as the “consequences are grave”, it would like to “ask him (Justice Karnan) some questions and hear his responses”.
“Despite the notice, Justice C S Karnan has not put in his appearance. Moreover, no lawyer has been appointed by him to represent him today. We are not aware of the reasons for his non-appearance. We, therefore, refrain from proceeding with the matter,” the Bench said while fixing the matter for hearing on March 10.
The court also took on record Justice Karnan’s letter to the Registrar General of the apex court on February 10 in which he had reportedly played the Dalit card and asked the Supreme Court to refer the matter to Parliament, contending that the contempt proceedings were not sustainable.
During the hearing, the Bench was irked when counsel, including Mathew J Nedumpara, started arguing in the matter. Nedumpara said Justice Karnan was in distress and needed counselling.
“Has Justice Karnan authorised you (Nedumpara) to appear? Please answer the question. Has he authorised you? You always interfere with the court proceedings,” the Bench said, adding no lawyer can be allowed to argue unless authorised and warned that they will be proceeded against under the law for interfering with the judicial process.
The Supreme Court had earlier restrained Justice Karnan from undertaking judicial and administrative work.