Controversial former Calcutta High Court judge CS Karnan on Tuesday was arrested by West Bengal Police from the guest house of a private college in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district. His arrest comes more than a month after the Supreme Court has sentenced him to six months jail term for contempt of court. He had not been seen in public ever since.
Here is a timeline of events leading up to Justice Karnan’s arrest on Tuesday:
January 2014: CS Karnan’s name first appeared back in January 2014 during the fracas surrounding the selection of judges to the Madras High Court, when the then high court judge accused the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court of “discrimination” and “partisan treatment”. Karnan had apparently been relieved of the responsibilities of Karur district where he had undertaken efforts to inaugurate a court complex. Karnan said his portfolio was changed from Karur to Sivaganga district in the invitations to the event and that the inauguration was done by an ‘upper caste’ Hindu judge who was given Karur district portfolio.
March 2014: The Supreme Court came down heavily on CS Karnan, who had stormed a Madras High Court room in January that year alleging the selection of judges was “not fair” and “irregular”, and termed his conduct as “indecorous” and “uncharitable”.
February 2016: Following a stay by CS Karnan on his own transfer order directed by the Supreme Court collegium, the apex court restrained the then Madras High Court judge from issuing any judicial order — suo motu or otherwise — and imposed a blanket stay on all directions issued by him after February 12, 2016, the date when the Collegium moved to transfer him.
February 2017: Supreme Court initiates suo motu contempt proceedings against CS Karnan for writing letters, levelling allegations of corruption against several sitting and retired apex court and high court judges.
March 10, 2017: A bailable warrant was issued against CS Karnan by the Supreme Court after he failed to show up in compliance of the contempt proceedings initiated against him earlier in February for writing contentious letters against sitting and retired apex court and high court judges. Seven days later wrote to the Supreme Court judges, including the Chief Justice of India, seeking compensation to the tune of Rs 14 crore from them citing “disturbing my mind and my normal life”.
May 9, 2017: The Supreme Court sentences CS Karnan to six months imprisonment for contempt of court. The apex court also banned media from publishing content of orders passed by C S Karnan. Karnan reportedly went missing ever since the Supreme Court’s sentence.
May 12, 2017: CS Karnan asks the Supreme Court to recall its order holding him guilty of contempt of court. The bench headed by CJI Jagdish Singh Khehar said it would consider Karnan’s plea. CJI Khehar also asked Karnan’s lawyer about the whereabouts of the former Calcutta High Court judge. Later on, W Peter Ramesh Kumar, Karnan’s close aide and his legal adviser, claimed that Justice Karnan is evading arrest and may have left the country to return only if the President of India gives him an appointment.
May 20, 2017: The Supreme Court refuses to list and hear CS Karnan’s petition seeking recall of its order convicting and sentencing him to a six-month jail term for contempt. Karnan continued to remain at large following the apex court order. Nearly a month later, on June 8, Supreme Court again declines to hear Karnan’s plea seeking stay on his conviction.
June 12, 2017: Still at large and having not been seen in public since the Supreme Court’s conviction, former Calcutta High Court judge CS Karnan retires from service.A customary farewell by the high court administration to a retiring judge could not be held as Justice Karnan was not present. He also became the first high court judge to have retired as a fugitive.
June 20, 2017: West Bengal police arrest former Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan from the guest house of a private college in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district. According to a top police official, Karnan had resisted the arrest and argued with the police before he was eventually taken into custody.