In unprecedented drama at the Madras High Court, a sitting judge, Justice C S Karnan, on Wednesday stormed into a courtroom where a PIL against alleged partisanship in the proposed appointment of additional judges was being heard, and told the bench that the selection of names was indeed “unfair” and he would file an affidavit in the case.
The list of 12 candidates selected for appointment as additional judges by a three-judge collegium of the High Court, which has now been forwarded to the Chief Justice of India, has created a controversy.
On Wednesday morning, lawyers protested on campus and took out a procession stating that some communities were poorly represented on the list. They demanded that the present list be recalled and that greater transparency be exercised in the selection process.
A PIL on the issue, filed by senior lawyer R Gandhi, came up for hearing in the afternoon before a bench of Justices V Dhanapalan and K K Sasidharan — specially formed after another bench hearing the case recused itself on Tuesday.
When proceedings began at 2.15 pm, Justice Dhanapalan expressed his displeasure at the conduct of the boycotting advocates, some of whom had, earlier in the day, raised slogans with placards inside his court.
The hearing then began. However, a few minutes on, Justice Karnan, wearing plainclothes, stormed into the court hall — with a court usher preceding him carrying the ceremonial mace — through the advocates’ entrance. He made his way to the front, turned to the advocates arguing the case and sought a minute to make a submission before the judges. Justice Karnan then declared that the selection was indeed unfair. “I am also part of the judiciary... I want to submit that the selection is unfair. I will file an affidavit in the matter,” he declared.
Later, in the evening, a full court, led by Chief Justice R K Agrawal, was convened to discuss the issue and the conduct of Justice Karnan.