Former Calcutta High Court judge CS Karnan was on Tuesday arrested by the West Bengal CID from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. His arrest came six days after his retirement on June 12. Karnan became the first high court judge to have retired as a fugitive.
Here is a look at the controversies involving Justice Karnan
2011- Justice Karnan writes to the National Commision for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) alleging caste-based discrimination from his fellow judges at the Madras High Court. He further claims that a fellow judge intentionally touched his feet at a marriage function.
2014- During a courtroom hearing at the Madras High Court on a PIL relating to appointment of judges, Justice Karnan alleges unfair selection of judges. He writes to the joint registrar of the RTI regarding the unfair appointment of judges and faces wrath of 20 judges of the Madras High Court for the allegations. Following this, a request was made to the then CJI Justice P Sathasivam for Karnan’s transfer from Madras High Court.
2015- After Chief Justice of Madras High Court Sanjay Kishan Kaul forms a committee to interview lawyers for appointment as civil judges, Karnan files a suo motu writ petition following which the division bench of the high court stays Kauls order. He then also threatens the Chief Justice of filing a contempt case against him for interference following the stay order. The Madras HC registry moves the Supreme Court demanding a stay on Justice Karnan’s order. Justice Karnan writes several letters to the CJI, the President and the Law Minister questioning the financial irregularities incurred by the Chief Justice and the Registrar General of the Madras High Court.
2016- Justice Karnan is transferred to the Calcutta High Court via order of the Supreme Court. Justice Karnan immediately puts a stay order on his transfer order and demands the CJI file a response and not interfere in his jurisdiction. Quashing the stay order of Justice Karnan, the Supreme Court directs the Madras High Court to discharge Justice Karnan from any work and put a blanket stay on all his orders.
2017- During Demonetisation, Justice Karnan writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing 20 judges of the high court and Supreme Court of corruption and hoarding of illegal money. As a last resort, the Supreme Court files suo motu contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan. CJI J S Khehar along with seven other senior judges issues him a notice. All judicial and administrative work of Justice Karnan is put to a standstill. Barring his practice, Justice Karnan alleges CJI and his bench of an upper caste bias and the court order as a caste-based discrimination amounting to an offence under the SC and ST (Prevention of) Atrocities Act.
Justice Karnan does not attend the contempt proceedings and asks for Rs. 14 crore as the compensatory amount from the seven judge bench.
On March 10, Supreme Court issues a bailable warrant against Justice Karnan. During the hearing, Karnan announces that he will not be challenging the court to arrest him. Here the Supreme Court questions Justice Karnan’s state of mind and requests him to furnish a medical certificate to prove that he is of sound mind.
Thereafter, Karnan orders the seven-judge bench to appear at his residential court on insulting him in an open court. He further goes on to issue bailable warrants against the seven judges, orders a CBI probe on his caste-based allegations, directs the Airport Authority to restrain the seven judges from flying abroad and convicts the bench under the SC/ST Act for five years.
Justice Karnan is at present guilty of contempt and has been sentenced to six months imprisonment; restraining the media to print his statements.