• Monday, Sep 24, 2018
  • Last Update : 07:51 pm

Indian justices trade warrants as contempt row escalates

  • Published at 05:54 pm May 3rd, 2017
Indian justices trade warrants as contempt row escalates
A day after ordering Delhi Police to present seven Supreme Court judges before a psychiatric board, Calcutta High Court Justice CS Karnan on Tuesday ordered non-bailable warrants be issued against the seven, including Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, for failing to appear before him. Firing a fresh salvo in his over three-month-long standoff with the Supreme Court, Justice Karnan instructed the High Court's registrar general to issue the non-bailable warrants, reports Business Standard. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court order that no tribunal or authority should take cognisance of any "purported" orders passed by him, Justice Karnan said the warrants should be served to the judges by the director general of police (DGP) or the commissioner of police in Delhi. He invoked Article 226 of the Indian constitution, read with Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, to give a "suo motu judicial order in the interest of the nation to protect the general public from corruption and unrest." The row between the apex judiciary and Justice Karnan flared once more on Monday, with the Supreme Court ordering that the Justice undergo a medical examination to dispel doubts that he was in sufficiently fit mental condition to defend himself. Observing that Karnan was making "press statements with abject impunity", the seven-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Khehar, had directed the director of health services in West Bengal to set up a medical board to examine Karnan on May 4. The board will submit a report before May 8, a day before the next hearing, on "whether or not Karnan is in a fit condition to defend himself." The court also directed the state’s director general of police to form a team of law enforcement officials to assist the medical board. However, within hours the same day, an unfazed Justice Karnan termed the apex court order “ridiculous” and threatened to "pass a suo motu suspension order against the West Bengal DGP if he functions against my wish." Instead, he ordered the Delhi police to produce the seven apex court judges before a psychiatric medical board under the AIIMS Hospital in New Delhi and submit a report on or before May 7 after conducting "appropriate medical tests." Karnan is facing contempt charges for degrading the judiciary and making allegations of corruption against Supreme Court judges in January. On February 8, the Supreme Court issued a notice of contempt to him, an unprecedented step against a sitting judge, and asked him to appear before the bench in person. Furthermore, the Supreme Court ordered that Justice Karan not discharge any judicial and administrative functions while the proceedings were pending. As Karnan failed to appear before the bench as instructed, the apex court on March 10, in another unprecedented move, issued a bailable warrant against him. But the judge escalated the row by ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation probe against the seven judges, dismissing the Supreme Court's warrant as "immaterial" when the West Bengal DGP served it to him four days later. On March 31, Karnan appeared before the seven-judge bench and was given four weeks to respond to the contempt notice. However, he renewed the confrontation on April 13, passing a "judicial order" against the bench for "violating" the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and directed them to "appear" before him on April 28. Later in an order, Justice Karnan directed the Air Control Authority in New Delhi to disallow the chief justice and the other six judges from travelling abroad.