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In what could be an unprecedented order, the Supreme Court today directed the medical examination of Calcutta High Court judge, Justice CS Karnan.
The seven judge Bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar directed Government Hospital, Calcutta to constitute a Medical Board for the purpose.
The order was passed despite submissions by Senior Advocate KK Venugopal that Justice Karnan is not in a fit mental condition and hence, the Court should refrain from proceeding with the contempt case.
“His order indicates that he cannot be taken seriously. It is very clear that he is not in position to defend himself. Fortunately, he is retiring in June. Otherwise, he could have been impeached. He should not be considered as a person who consciously disobeyed the order of this Court. So my submission is to adjourn the matter and allow him to retire”, said Venugopal.
“That way, anybody can feign illness and get away”, said Justice Khehar.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi agreed with the Chief Justice and vehemently pushed for strong action against the sitting High Court judge.
“The orders passed by him are not orders passed by somebody who has lost his mind. Everyday, he says something, it has been a continuous conduct. This is aggravation of contempt. He has called “your lordships” accused. It is gross criminal contempt – ridiculing the judges, calling them accused. The judiciary cannot become a laughing stock”, submitted Rohatgi.
Rohatgi also said that the Court should not duck the issue on the ground that Karnan J. will retire soon.
The Court then proceeded to dictate the order. It first clarified that since the judicial and administrative powers of Karnan J. have been suspended, no court, tribunal, authority or commission in the country should take cognizance of any purported judicial order passed by Karnan J.
Thereafter, the Court noted that the judge will have to be medically examined.
“The tone and tenor of press leakages (of Justice Karnan) as also the purported judicial orders passed by him indicate that he may not be in a position to defend himself. We, therefore require him to be medically examined”.
The Court therefore directed the Government Hospital, Calcutta to constitute a Medical Board for the same. The Board has been directed to conduct the examination on May 4 and submit a report to the Court on May 8.
The Director General of Police of West Bengal has been directed to constitute a team of personnel to assist the Medical Board to carry out the orders of the Court.
Further, the Bench has allowed the Supreme Court Bar Association to assist the Court.
The case is now listed for hearing on May 9.