The strange case of Justice Karnan vs the judiciary

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It was nothing short of fireworks when Justice C S Karnan addressed the media yesterday following a unique Supreme Court order which directed the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court not to assign him any work. While his presser did create ripples, he went ahead and even stayed his transfer order to the Calcutta High Court.

For starters the order passed by him staying his transfer is void ab initio or null and void. According to the law, he cannot sit in judgment on an order that concerns him. It is still unclear how this matter relating to his transfer landed up before him.

Supreme Court

Justice Santhosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court tells OneIndia that the order passed by him has no validity. Moreover one must also ask the registry of the High Court how did a matter concerning the judge land up before him and why was the Chief Justice permission or opinion not sought.

Justice Karnan- always in the news:

The order of the Supreme Court came in the wake of allegations of misconduct and in-efficiency. Justice Karnan had threatened to file contempt of court charges against the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice Sanjay Kaul. Further he also said he was being tragetted because he was a Dalit judge.

Issues of Dalit judges being targeted had been raised by him in the past as well. IN November 2015, he wrote three letters addressed to the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, the President of India and the Law Minister making such allegations of discrimination.

In June 2013, an order passed by him raised several protests. He had said that if a couple of legal age indulged in sexual gratification, it would be considered as a legal marriage and they would be termed as husband and wife.

There was an uproar over this judgment and this led him to passing another order in which he gagged persons from making adverse comments.

He also created a stir when he lodged a complaint with the National Commission for SC/ST alleging that he was abused by fellow judge in 2011 because he was a Dalit. He had even alleged that once a judge sitting next to him had deliberately touched with a shoe.

Dealing with the situation:

Legal experts say that if a transfer order has been issued then he will have to abide by the same. He cannot sit over his own matter and take a decision like he did. Further if he refuses to obey the order then the Supreme Court can initiate disciplinary proceedings against him.

However the powers of impeachment lie with the Parliament. It is for the Parliament to gauge the gravity of the problem and move an impeachment motion in both Houses.

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