A day after ordering Delhi Police to present seven Supreme Court judges before a psychiatric board, Calcutta High Court Justice C.S. Karnan on Tuesday ordered non-bailable warrants be issued against the apex court judges, including the Chief Justice of India, for not being represented before him.
Firing a fresh salvo in his over-three-month standoff with the Supreme Court, Justice Karnan instructed the High Court’s Registrar-General to issue the non-bailable warrants.
Notwithstanding the Supreme Court order that no tribunal or authority should take cognisance of any “purported” orders passed by him, he said the warrants should be served to the judges by the Director General of Police or the Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
Justice Karnan invoked the Constitution’s Article 226, 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 had entered a fresh round on Monday, with the Supreme Court ordering his medical examination as it expressed doubt if he was in a 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 Jagdish Singh Khehar had directed West Bengal’s Director Health Services to set up a medical board comprising doctors of the state-run mental health facility Pavlov Government Hospital in Kolkata to examine Karnan on May 4.
The Board of Doctors would submit a report before May 8, a day before the next hearing, on “whether or not Shri Justice Karnan is in a fit condition to defend himself”.
The court also directed the state Director General of Police to set up a team of police to assist the medical board.
However, within hours the same day, an unfazed Justice Karnan termed as “ridiculous” the apex court’s order and even threatened to “pass suo motu suspension order against the Director General of Police of West Bengal, if the DGP 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 him a contempt notice, an unprecedented step against a sitting judge, and asked him to appear before the bench in person and not discharge any judicial and administrative functions during the pendency of the proceedings.
As Karnan failed to appear, 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 and dismissed the warrant as “immaterial” when the West Bengal Director General of Police served it on 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.
But, he renewed the confrontation on April 13, passing a “judicial order” against the seven-judge 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 not to allow the CJI and other six judges to travel abroad.