Contempt move against HC Judge CS Karnan put off till March 10

Justice SC Karnan was elevated to Madras High Court in 2009. He began complaining in 2011 that he was being discriminated against for being Dalit. Now he’s accused the apex court of upper caste bias

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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NH National Bureau

Contempt of Court proceedings against the Calcutta High Court judge CS Karnan, the first such case against a high court judge, were today put off for three weeks till March 10 after the controversial judge failed to appear before the seven-judge bench despite having been served with the notice.


The judge, whose judicial and administrative powers had been stayed by the Supreme Court last week after it took suo moto cognisance of the judge’s acts that, the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said in court, had brought disrepute to the judiciary and undermined confidence of people in the judiciary.


The judge had responded to the notice by declaring it to be illegal. He also wanted the proceedings to be held in abeyance till the retirement of the Chief Justice of India, Justice J S Khehar. In case of urgency, he had suggested, the move to impeach him should be initiated in Parliament, where he hoped to have his say.


The apex court initiated contempt proceedings after:

  • The judge had in a letter to the Prime Minister on January 23 this year making ‘scurrilous allegations’ of corruption against 20 sitting judges of the apex court and the high courts.
  • Madras High Court had complained that the judge had refused to return 12 files even after he was transferred to Calcutta High Court almost a year ago
  • He had not vacated his official accommodation in Chennai even after his transfer to Calcutta
  • He had stayed his own transfer order
  • He had complained that he was being victimised for being a Dalit


The judge had met the previous CJI TS Thakur in February last year following which he had agreed to move to Calcutta. According to reports, he had then admitted that his erratic conduct was a result of his “mental frustration resulting in the loss of his mental balance”.


He had reportedly cited two incidents that had disturbed him. “One was an incident that occurred during a marriage reception when a brother judge kicked me and later apologised. In another incident, the same judge allegedly removed the armchair reservation slip on my chair, threw it on the ground and trampled it with his feet. The same was noticed by a brother and sister judge…” he had then claimed.

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