100 cops, led by the West Bengal police chief, are currently at the doors of Calcutta high court Justice CS Karnan to enforce the Supreme Court’s arrest warrant against him for contempt of court, reported NDTV, after Karnan yesterday sent another letter to the seven most senior apex court judges claiming Rs 14 crore in compensation from them for having “disturbed my mind and my normal life”.
Karnan had added in his letter:
“Besides you have insulted me in the general public consisting of a population of 120 crores in India due to lack of legal knowledge.
“Now all seven Judges shall pay a part of the compensation within a period of 7 days from the date of receipt of this order, failing which on the same stand of yours(same footing), I will restrain judicial and administrative work of yours.”
Update-1, 15:35: The Hindustan Times reported that Karnan has “rejected” the warrant in a letter / self-styled “order":
“I rejected the same (the bailable warrant) after assigning valid reasons. This kind of demeaning acts from your lordships and further perpetrating the Atrocities Act is absolutely out of law to the utter embarrassment of a Dalit judge,” justice Karan wrote in his response.
“Hence, I request you to stop your further harassment in order to uphold the dignity and decorum of our courts.” ... While talking to the media at his residence on Friday, Karnan said: “By ordering this bailable warrant against me the Supreme Court has made itself a laughing stock before the whole world.”
When asked what he would do if the Supreme Court takes stronger action, he said,”I am seeking legal opinion.”
Update-2: Even former Chief Justice of India (CJI) KG Balakrishnan has declined to stand behind Karnan, whom he had selected for judgeship, Utkarsh Anand wrote in The Indian Express:
“There was no way I could have known about Justice Karnan. We have no such mechanism (in the Supreme Court). We get recommendations from the high court concerned. Chief justices propose the names and we go by that. I did not make any specific inquiry about him (Karnan),” said Justice Balakrishnan, countering that he could be held “personally responsible” for appointing such a judge.<
++State of the bench
Karnan’s letter of yesterday had clearly pushed the situation even further beyond the several breaking points that had already been reached in the saga, with Karnan having ignored the Supreme Court’s contempt summons and notices, and having responded with several of his own contempt notices and demands to the Supreme Court.
Predictably, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani’s open letter to Karnan last week (see a copy below), which accused Karnan of having “lost [his] mind” and being a “lunatic”, had little effect.
That is not exactly surprising.
Although Jethmalani is many great things, a mental health professional he is clearly not.
If, as is conceivable from Karnan’s conduct so far, he is indeed mentally ill, then Jethmalani’s letter, in which he “humbly pray[s]” for Karnan to withdraw “every stupid action you have so far indulged in”, should leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth, however well-intentioned it may have been.
Confronting a person with what could potentially be delusional disorder in the way Jethmalani attempted, is only rarely successful.
That said, it’s not as though the Supreme Court (or anyone else) had found any better solutions to the Karnan ‘problem’. Transferring him, clearly didn’t work.
The only one, who has had any success at dealing with Karnan, appears to have been CJI Thakur, who had met with Karnan for 30 minutes in February 2016, brokering apparent peace for many months, after having stripped him of judicial powers.
Of course, the Supreme Court had found itself between a rock and a hard place: the only tools available for it, other than engaging or trying to help Karnan (which may be impossible), were transfer and contempt, or encouraging parliament to begin impeachment proceedings against a sitting judge for having allegedly “lost his mind”, to use Jethmalani’s phrasing.
And that is a systemic problem with the judiciary: under the current systems, the judiciary has proved time and time again that it has a very hard time even policing and regulating itself in edge cases, including in cases of corruption as well as in other cases of alleged judicial misconduct such as sexual harassment.
Something needs to change, and Karnan has made that very visible.
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.