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SC stays Madras HC Justice Karnan contempt case vs chief justice Kaul

The Supreme Court on Monday restrained Madras High Court judge Justice C.S. Karnan from hearing a case relating to appointment of junior judicial officers in Tamil Nadu as it directed uninterrupted recruitment of the subordinate officers by the selection committee.

The selection committee includes five judges of the high court - Justice V. Dhanapalan, Justice R. Sudhakar, Justice Hariparanthaman, Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice R. Mala - besides the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission chairman.

A bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Arun Kishra and Justice Amitava Roy also stayed the April 30, 2015 interim order by which Justice Karnan had threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against his high court's Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul for allegedly interfering with his judicial order by orders on the administrative side.

"There will be stay of the interim order dated April 30, 2015 passed in the suo motu writ petition," said the apex court order.

"We restrain the judge who initiated suo motu proceedings relating to suo motu W.P. (writ petition) pending before the Madras High Court from either hearing or issuing any direction in the said W.P."

Appearing for the high court registry, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal told the court that the conduct of Justice Karnan has brought disrepute to the institution.

The apex court further said that "in all other matters connected with it there shall not be any interference by any person or authority or judges in the process initiated by the high court for selection and appointment of Tamil Nadu junior judicial officers till the disposal of the SLP (matter)".

The entire matter is rooted in Justice Karnan passing a judicial order restraining the selection committee from going ahead with the interviews of the candidates for appointment as junior judicial officers. The five judges selection committee, set up by Chief Justice Kaul which was to hold the interviews from April 15 to April 21.

After the committee had held the first round of interviews on April 15, Justice Karnan on April 16 passed a suo motu judicial order restraining the selection committee from further proceedings with the selection process.

However, the order by Justice Karnan was put on hold April 17 by a division bench comprising Justice S. Tamilvanan and Justice C.T. Selvam but Justice Karnan then directed the high court registry to place the matter before him on April 30.

As the matter was not placed before Justice Karnan on April 30, he reiterated it, while asking Chief Justice Kaul not to interfere in his judicial work.

Besides seeking that the two members in the selection committee be from the minority committee, one from Muslim and other from Christian, Justice Karnan also doubted the veracity of the educational qualification of one of the judges on the committee.

He had also threatened to move the SC/ST commission alleging harassment by Chief Justice Kaul.

It was against this backdrop that Justice Karnan had threatened Chief Justice Kaul of contempt action and had sought a Cenral Bureau of Investigation probe into the veracity of the degrees of Justice Dhanapalan.

 

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