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Contempt provisions

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 May 2017 12:00 AM GMT

The face-off between Calcutta High Court judge Justice CS Karn and the Supreme Court is getting more bizarre with each episode. Things have reached such a pass that the apex court recently ordered that Justice Karn be medically examined; he retaliated by ordering Delhi Police to subject the seven Supreme Court judges to evaluation by the AIIMS psychiatric board. When a medical team along with a posse of policemen arrived at Justice Karn’s residence last week, he claimed he was ‘absolutely normal’, called SC judges “terrorists” and repeated the allegation that they are humiliating a ‘dalit judge’. Justice Karn is facing contempt charges after he shot off a letter to Prime Minister rendra Modi in January, claiming “high corruption” in the Judiciary and ming 20 “corrupt judges”. He however failed to produce any evidence to back his allegations. The Supreme Court responded with a contempt notice, and then a bailable warrant. Justice Karn hit back by ordering the CBI “to probe” all the seven SC judges in the constitution bench. Though he did appear before the SC bench later, Justice Karn escalated the confrontation by passing a ‘judicial order’ against seven SC judges, including Chief Justice JS Khehar, for “violating” the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and directing them “to appear” before him. Observers are speculating what the apex court will next do to rein in Justice Karn, but the confrontation is raising questions as to how the Judiciary ought to react to allegations about corrupt judges, and how it should apply contempt provisions. Such allegations have been raised in the past by former Law minister Shanti Bhushan and SC judge Markandey Katju. There have been impeachment proceedings in Parliament on grounds of corruption against former SC judge V Ramaswami and former HC judges PD Dikaran and Soumitra Sen. A new judicial accountability law can help deal with this issue, but before that, the suspicion between the Executive and the Judiciary over their powers has to end.

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