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In a first, SC issues arrest warrant against serving HC judge

In an unprecedented order, the Supreme Court on Friday issued bailable warrants against serving Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan to ensure his presence before it on March 31 in a contempt case.

Justice Karnan goes down in the Indian judicial history as the first serving High Court judge against whom an arrest warrant has been issued by the apex court in a contempt case.

A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar took strong note of Justice Karnan's non-appearance despite being served with the contempt notice and asked the Director General of West Bengal Police to execute the warrants on the judge to ensure his presence at 10.30 am on March 31.

The court said it would "appreciate" if the bailable warrants are served on Justice Karnan by the DGP.

"Notice of this petition has been duly served. Despite service, wherein the personal presence of Shri Justice C S Karnan, in this Court, was imperative, he has neither entered appearance in person, nor through counsel," the bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph, said.

"In view of the above, there is no other alternative but to seek the presence of Shri Justice C S Karnan by issuing bailable warrants. Ordered accordingly. Bailable warrants, in the sum of Rs 10,000, in the nature of a personal bond, to the satisfaction of the arresting officer, be issued, to ensure the presence of Shri Justice C S Karnan, in this Court, on March 31 at 10.30 A.M," it said.

The bench during a 15-minute-long hearing that took place in the packed CJI's courtroom referred to Justice Karnan's fax message sent to the apex court registry on March 8 seeking a meeting with the CJI to discuss "certain administrative issues".

It said the message "primarily seem to reflect the allegations levelled by him against certain named judges. The above fax message, dated March 8, cannot be considered as a response of Justice C S Karnan, either to the contempt petition, or to the notice served upon him."

In an equally dramatic development, Justice Karnan on Friday directed the CBI Director to register, investigate and file a report before the CBI court in Delhi against all the seven judges who passed the bailable warrant and also Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who pleaded for such an order.

"Warrant has taken against me to ruin my career and my life," the Justice Karnan said. He also said, "There are some justices who are involved in illegal activities. The Supreme Court has started case against me without having any investigation, any discussion and any findings. This is just an effort to ruin my career and life. They are doing it against a Dalit justice."

"I have also requested the President of India to stay the bailable warrant issued by the SC today," said Justice Karnan.

Justice Karnan ran a court from his New Town residence on the outskirts of Kolkata on Friday.
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