Calcutta High Court judge Justice C S Karnan, evading arrest since May 9, today failed to get relief from the Supreme Court, which refused to hear his plea seeking a stay on an order awarding him a six-month jail term for contempt of court.
Justice Karnan’s counsel mentioned the matter before a vacation bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Deepak Gupta, which refused to interfere with the order directing the West Bengal police to take him into custody.
Advocate Mathews J Nedumpara, representing Justice Karnan, told the bench that the high court judge was entitled to know why he was convicted for contempt of court by a seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar.
“I am seeking only a stay. I had made a request to the CJI to take up the matter. Justice Karnan, like other litigants, is entitled to get at least an order from the court,” he said.
The detailed verdict of May 9 order had not been made available till date, he pointed out.
The bench, however, said it could not hear the matter as the order was passed by a special bench of seven judges.
“The order was passed by the special bench. We cannot say anything,” the bench said, adding, “you ask these questions to the special bench.”
To this, Nedumpara said there should be at least a stay on the apex court’s order till his plea for recall of the May 9 order was taken up for a hearing.
“Nothing has happened for the past one month. You wait for three or four more weeks and go to the special bench. We cannot help you. Whatever will be done will be done by the special bench. We cannot do it,” the bench said.
The apex court had earlier refused to list and hear Justice Karnan’s plea seeking a recall of the May 9 order after it was held as “not maintainable” by the court registry.
On May 12, Justice Karnan, whom the West Bengal police is looking for, had moved the apex court for relief, saying neither high courts, nor their judges, were “subordinate” to it.
“The petitioner, a judge of the High Court of Calcutta, is not under any disciplinary jurisdiction of either the CJI or the bench of seven judges constituted by the CJI, as in the instant case,” the plea said.
He sought a recall of the apex court order awarding him six months’ imprisonment, saying he could not be held guilty of contempt of court.
Justice Karnan said the Contempt of Courts Act was a “cathartic jurisprudence which belonged to the Dark Ages, the era of inquisition and torture, distinct from the classical Roman Law which constitutes the foundation of modern jurisprudence”.
He also sought a stay on all “further proceedings” pursuant to the May 9 order.