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The Delhi High Court today reserved its order on a plea of jailed ex-Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan challenging the constitutional validity of the Contempt of Courts Act. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar concluded the hearing during which senior lawyer Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, opposed Karnan's plea saying the apex court has given ample opportunity to him to defend himself. "The challenge (to the Act) is uncalled and unwarranted.
This exercise is misconceived and it should not be entertained," he said. Karnan, in his petition filed through advocate Mathews J Nedumpara, has also sought a declaration from the high court that the apex court's May 9 sentencing order and further proceedings under it were "unconstitutional and void" as the principles of natural justice were allegedly not followed. The high court had on July 28 asked the Centre to place on record all the orders passed by the Supreme Court in the contempt case against Karnan, but refused to issue notice. It had asked the central government to also place on record the apex court rules that said only an advocate-on- record could file petitions in the top court. The high court had disagreed with the submission of Nedumpara that there was an apex court judgement which permitted a Supreme Court order to be challenged before a high court, saying he was "misquoting" the verdict. The lawyer had argued that the order of May 9 against Karnan holding him guilty of contempt of the apex court was a "nullity" in law as it was passed "without jurisdiction" and "authority of the law". He had said the judge was appointed by the President and could only be removed by Parliament. The apex court by its May 9 order had sentenced Karnan to six months in jail. Nedumpara had, however, argued that the order by a seven-judge apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, "resulted in his (Karnan) removal from office for all practical purposes". The plea has also challenged certain rules of the apex court which required that petitions in the Supreme Court be only filed through an advocate-on-record.
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