The strange ways of the functioning of Justice Karnan of the Madras High Court took another ugly turn with the Judge defying the order of the Supreme Court to open another area of confrontation. (See the report)
Earlier, the Judge had taken on his fellow Judge, Justice Dhanapalan as well as the Chief Justice of Tamil Nadu, Justice Sanjay S Kaul by raising the objection to Dhanapalan’s inclusion in a civil Judge recruitment committee alleging that Dhanapalan’s educational qualification was bogus. He did not stop at requesting the CJ to remove Mr Dhanapalan from the committee. He went ahead and suo moto ordered a stay on the committee and peppered the order with a threat that if it is violated, he would launch contempt of court proceedings against the CJ along with charging him under the Prevention of atrocities against SC & ST Act.
This was therefore not a simple case of a vigilant Judge trying to bring to the open an irregularity or fraud. It was a case of a Judge threatening his superior with his judicial powers and also invoking the caste card.
It may be noted that Justice Karnan has a history of such “Threat to use Contempt of Court” and “Threat to use SC/ST Card” even in earlier occasions against the previous CJ also.
When confronted with the threat and the Judicial order issued by Karnan, the CJ approached the Supreme Court for direction and a thre Judge bench stayed the order of Karnan. It had ordered that Justice Karnan shall not interfere with the Civil Judge recruitment process.
Now. according to today’s report, Justice Karnan has indirectly defied the Supreme Court order by another suo moto order. Now he has issued a direction to CBI Chennai to conduct an enquiry on Justice Dhanapalan’s educational qualifications. He has also furnished some information obtained through RTI.
While one can appreciate the commitment of Justice Karnan to oppose an irregularity if present, his frequent threats of invoking the Caste Card as well as the Contempt card projects him as a Caste activist. In the recent incident he has also threatened to open up “Muslim” and “Christian” issues indicating that he would go to any length to achieve his goal. An analysis of the events indicates that he holds a a personal grudge against Justice Dhanapalan and wants to settle it with all the powers at his command.
The lack of self restraint and diplomacy is an issue that must be making both the Chief Justice of Madras High Court and the Supreme Court wonder how to handle this unprecedented situation.
The controversy has many possible outcomes and it would be interesting to see how it develops into any of the following situations.
Will CJ of Madras and India continue to remain within the strict boundaries of petitions before them and ignore the move of Justice Karnan dragging CBI, Chennai into the controversy? Or
Will they suo moto order another stay on this order?
Will CBI or CJ- Madras move the SC in the matter?
Will Justice Dhanapalan move SC in the matter?
Will SC move a contempt of Court action against Justice Karnan?
Will there be any impeachment motion against Justice Karnan?
Will any responsible member of the public move the Supreme Court to stop this washing of dirty linen in the public by the Judge?
….Let’s wait and see the drama unfold
In the meantime we reiterate that when a person takes the oath of a Judge, he must also give up his rights under the Caste and Gender based legislations that our society has adopted to protect the lesser mortals.
Such laws are blatantly against the “Principle of Equality” and related to “Vote Bank Politics”. They need to be amended to exclude the “Creamy layers” so that it protects those who need protection and does not become a tool in the hands of empowered people to misuse.
While they remain in the books, they need to be upheld by Courts when citizens invoke them. But when Judges invoke such laws with suo moto orders, to protect their own causes, the laws may be considered as being used for “Self serving” purpose.
We need to therefore find a method to exclude exercise of such rights by Judges.
The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to look into this matter and pass appropriate ruling to prevent similar incidents in future.
Supreme Court may therefore consider if a Judge should voluntarily excuse himself from using caste or religion or gender based protection to further his own causes by an appropriate oath.
The use of Contempt law against another Judicial person should also be excused since any disagreement can always be handled through appeal in the proper course to a superior judicial authority.
If Supreme Court remains silent, we may see more of such incidents in the future and the respect the Judiciary should enjoy with the public will be severely eroded.