Justice Karnan controversy: Experts divided on Supreme Court’s arrest warrant


Legal experts are dismayed at the turn of events relating to Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan against whom the Supreme Court, in an unprecedented move, issued an arrest warrant to secure his presence.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal said the apex court was left with no option, while Vikas Singh maintained the court should have exercised “restraint” in handling the controversy surrounding Justice Karnan, who has retaliated by ordering registration of an FIR against the judges on the seven-member bench hearing the contempt case against him.

“This is a very sad thing. I am very distressed. It is sad that a judge is making such allegations. Allegation against judges in front of media,” former Attorney General and senior advocate Soli Sorabjee said, adding “just because he is a judge he can’t get off”.

While Sorabjee and senior advocate Venugopal said the apex court had no other option but to issue a bailable warrant against Justice Karnan, senior lawyer P P Rao called for his outright impeachment.

Similar view was shared by senior lawyer Vikas Singh, who condemned the actions of Justice Karnan but was equally critical of the manner in which the apex court was dealing with the controversy.

“This controversy has been overblown by the Supreme Court which was giving him an undue publicity. It should have shown a certain amount of restraint,” Singh said.

Sorabjee said Justice Karnan was only “aggravating” the contempt and making things worse for himself.

Agreeing with Sorabjee, Venugopal, who has been appearing for the Registrar General of the Madras High Court in the case, said Justice Karnan has been given more than one opportunity to appear.

“It (the SC) gave Justice Karnan more than one opportunity to appear before it. If he disobeys, the only manner in which the Supreme Court can enforce its order is by issuing a warrant of arrest,” he said.

Rao was critical of the language used by Justice Karnan and said, “A person who is holding a post of Judge must not have used undignified language. This weakens the judiciary.

And in this case in my opinion impeachment proceedings must be initiated.”

On the issue of Justice Karnan passing an order against apex court judges, Venugopal said, “He has been threatening the Madras High Court judges with SC/ST Act and accusing them of several offences but nothing has come out of it so far.

Nobody should take him seriously.”

Terming Justice Karnan’s action as contrary to the law, Singh said, “There cannot be an FIR against the Chief Justice of India.”

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