Giving a fresh twist to his three and a half month stand-off with the Supreme Court, Calcutta High Court Justice C.S. Karnan on Monday “sentenced” Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar and seven other apex court judges to five year rigorous imprisonment.
Justice Karnan, who is facing contempt charges for degrading the judiciary and making allegations of corruption against several Supreme Court judges, held the eight judges guilty of harassing a “Dalit Judge” (him), with a “common intention”.
The 12-page “order” said the accused have “committed” an offence “punishable under the SC/ST Atrocities Act of 1989 and amended Act of 2015”.
However, the Supreme Court has already restrained Justice Karnan from discharging any judicial and administrative functions and directed all authorities and tribunals not to take cognisance of any “purported” order passed by him.
The other judges named in the “order” are Justice Dipak Misra, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice R. Banumathi.
While seven of the judges were members of the bench that initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan, Justice Banumathi along with the Chief Justice Khehar had restrained him from discharging any judicial and administrative functions.
Justice Karnan also imposed fines of Rs 1 lakh on three counts under three-sub-sections of section 3 of the SC/ST Atrocities Act on all the eight judges.
The sentences would run concurrently, he said, and asked Delhi’s Commissioner of Police to execute the order.
SC judges have to pay the amount, within a week of receiving the order, to the National Commission, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.
In case they fail to pay, they would undergo further six months imprisonment.
Justice Karnan also ordered Justice Banumathi to pay him a Rs 2 crore compensation, and directed the Supreme Court Registrar General to recover the amount from her and remit it to his account.
He also refereed to his April 13 order asking the judges (except Justice Banumathi against whom he had not passed any order that day) to pay Rs 14 crore to him as compensation and decreed that the order stood “declared and suitable for execution” as it has not been challenged.
He directed the Supreme Court Registrar General to recover the amount from the salary of the seven judges and remit it to his account.
“If the accused are aggrieved by this order, they are at liberty to approach parliament.
“Until such time the accused 1-8 shall not hold office and not be permitted to deal in any cases on the file of the Supreme Court besides any administrative orders,” Karnan said, pronouncing the order from the ‘make-shift court’ at his residence Rosedale Tower in New Town in Kolkata’s North Eastern fringes.
Karnan directed the union and state governments not to avail the services of the eight judges “since they are functioning out of law for their personal gain”.
He also ordered the government to pay him Rs 2.85 lakh in relief and directed the “District Magistrate of Kolkata” to make necessary administrative arrangements to provide the relief in cash or kind.
In January, Karnan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi naming 20 “corrupt judges”, and seeking probe against them to curb “high corruption” in the Indian judiciary.
The Supreme Court then issued him a contempt notice, an unprecedented step against a sitting judge. After he failed to appear, it on March 10, in another first time move, issued a bailable warrant against him.
But the judge escalated the row by ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation probe against the seven judges.
Karnan appeared before the seven-judge bench on March 31, but renewed the confrontation on April 13, passing a “judicial order” against them for “violating” the SC/ST Act and also asked them to appear before him.
Later, he directed the Air Control Authority in New Delhi not to allow the CJI and other six judges to travel abroad.
The Supreme Court asked him to undergo a medical test on May 4, but Karnan not only refused to comply, but also hit back by directing Delhi Police to conduct a psychiatric test of the seven judges.