Karnan gets four weeks to respond to contempt notice

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New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday asked Calcutta High Court judge Justice C.S. Karnan to respond in four weeks to the contempt notice issued to him.

A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar told Justice Karnan to answer the notice issued to him in February.

Besides Chief Justice Khehar, other judges on the bench were Dipak Misra, J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Kurian Joseph.

At the outset, Justice Khehar asked Justice Karnan if he wanted to reiterate the allegations he had made against 20 judges or think about it or offer an unconditional apology.

“We are asking you again and again. Do you say that you stand by whatever you have written or want to think about it. We will give you the time,” the bench told Justice Karnan as he appeared before the court after non-bailable warrants were issued against him in the last hearing.

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As Justice Karnan was told to respond in four weeks, he said his judicial and administrative work should be restored. Only then he would be in a position to respond to the contempt notice.

He said he was not in a state of mind to respond until this was done.

The top court, while issuing Justice Karnan a contempt notice, said he would not discharge any judicial and administrative functions during the pendency of the proceedings.

As the court asked him if he was giving an unconditional apology, Justice Karnan said: “I have not been given an opportunity. Without hearing me you have issued suo motu contempt notice. You have issued notice and also the punishment.”

Referring to his right under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution, Justice Karnan, referring to the police which came to his place, asked: “Am I a terrorist? A contempt notice has been issued. My dignity has been spoiled before the public.”

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Chief Justice Khehar said: “When we served you notice (on February 8), you received it but you did not enter appearance (before the court). That is why bailable warrants were issued. Note that you are an accused. You disobeyed the court.”

Justice Karnan said: “If I don’t come in response to bailable warrants, will you issue arrest warrants against me?”

As the bench refused to accede to his plea to restore his functions, Justice Karnan said the court could record his statement that he would not appear for the next hearing.

He could be punished right away and sent to jail, he said.

The bench said: “If you feel you are not in a mental state to respond, you give a medical certificate.”

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At one point during the hearing, when the bench observed that Justice Karnan was not able to comprehend what he was doing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said there was no question of non-comprehension.

Rohatgi said: “I don’t think this is a case of un-intention. It is a case of re-affirmation (of the allegations).

“You go on naming the judges, asking for inquiry. He is damning the judges. He has damned the judiciary.”



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