The extensive coverage of the Justice C S Karnan saga has come under the sharp attack of the Supreme Court which said the media remained “unmindful” of the damage being caused to the judiciary by “merrily” riding the Karnan wave. Illegal orders and public utterances of Justice Karnan made the judiciary a “laughing stock” and gave an opportunity to foreign media, including BBC, to take a “dig at the Indian judiciary”, a seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said in its judgement.
In its detailed verdict on the six-month sentence awarded to the controversial high court judge, the bench highlighted the role of the media in giving undue coverage to Karnan. “All this was widely reported by the media in India, as well as, by the foreign media. The BBC also reported on the issue. His public utterances turned the judicial system into a laughing stock. The local media, unmindful of the damage it was causing to the judicial institution, merrily rode the Karnan wave. Even the foreign media, had its dig at the Indian judiciary,” the bench said. The verdict, penned by the CJI on behalf of five judges of the seven-judge bench, also referred to the fact that even after its order restraining Justice Karnan from doing administrative and judicial work, he kept giving interviews to the media.
“His interviews with the media, and the orders passed by him were extremely disparaging. Illustratively, by an order dated April 13, he ordered the registration of a case under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, against all the 7 members of the Bench; by another order dated April 28, he directed the Air Control Authority, New Delhi, not to allow any of the 7 members of the Bench to travel abroad; “And by yet another order dated 7.5.2017, he sentenced all the 7 members of the Bench, and Justice … to 5 years rigorous imprisonment. All this was widely reported by the media in India, as well as, by the foreign media,” it said in the detailed judgement that followed after the May 9 order sentencing Karnan to six months jail term for its contempt.