Supreme Court sends Justice Karnan to jail for contempt, gags press on him

J S Khehar also barred the media from publishing or reporting the orders passed by Justice C S Karnan.

Written by ANANTHAKRISHNAN G | New Delhi | Updated: May 12, 2017 10:22 am
CS karnan, justice karnan, justice cs karnan, calcutta high court judge karnan, karnan jailed, karnan to be jailed, india news, indian express The Supreme Court’s order came a day after Justice C S Karnan “sentenced” CJI Khehar and seven other Supreme Court judges to five years rigorous imprisonment (Express Photo)

Stating that Calcutta High Court Judge C S Karnan had “committed contempt of court”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced him to jail for six months and ordered that he should be taken into custody “forthwith”. This is the first time that a sitting high court judge has been sent to jail on charges of contempt. The seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar also barred the media from publishing or reporting the orders passed by Karnan. “We are of the unanimous opinion that Justice C S Karnan has committed contempt of this court, of the judiciary and also the judicial process,” said CJI Khehar. The other judges on the bench are Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph.

With the court asking the West Bengal Director General of Police to implement the order “forthwith”, Karnan, who is due to retire in the second week of June, is set to spend the last month of his tenure and five months thereafter in jail.

Appearing for the Registrar General of the Madras High Court, senior counsel K K Venugopal requested that Karnan be allowed to serve the sentence after he retires, as sending a sitting judge to jail would be a blot on judicial history. But the court said that “contempt is contempt. It has no colour. Whether you are a common man or a judge, it does not matter.’’

READ | ‘How can SC issue gag order… I am like Ambedkar’s adopted son’

“If we do not send him to jail, there will be a blemish that Supreme Court has condoned the contempt committed by a judge,” the bench said.

The Supreme Court’s order came a day after Karnan “sentenced” CJI Khehar and seven other Supreme Court judges — Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose, Kurian Joseph and R Banumathi — to five years rigorous imprisonment, after holding them guilty under the SC/ST Atrocities Act.

While the first six judges are part of the seven-judge bench which initiated contempt proceedings against Karnan earlier this year, after he sought a probe against 20 “corrupt judges”, Justice Banumathi was part of a two-judge bench, with CJI Khehar, which passed an order restraining him from performing judicial and administrative work.

Elevated to the Madras High Court in March 2009, Karnan first hit the headlines when he approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes in 2011, accusing his brother judges of discriminating against him because he was a Dalit.

Express Editorial: Over-reaction

In 2014, he walked into a court room where a Supreme Court division bench was hearing a PIL on names recommended for the post of judges, and complained that the selection was “not fair”. The court slammed his conduct and termed it “uncharitable” and “indecorous”.

ALSO READ: Justice C S Karnan, controversy his middle name

The then Madras High Court Chief Justice R K Agarwal urged the then CJI P Sathasivam to transfer Karnan to some other court. Karnan then approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes again.

A year later, he landed in a fresh row after he suo motu stayed the order of the then Madras High Court Chief Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul on selection of civil judges. The Supreme Court had to step in and stay his action.

In February last year, Karnan stayed the then CJI T S Thakur’s order transferring him to Calcutta High Court. He also went public with his criticism of the apex court and alleged that he was being targeted because he was a Dalit. Karnan also sent letters to the President, Prime Minister and Congress president among others.

The Madras High Court Registrar General asked the Supreme Court to restrain Karnan from taking suo motu action. The apex court responded by staying all administrative and judicial orders passed by the judge after the date on which he was recommended for transfer. The Supreme Court left it to the Madras HC Chief Justice to decide whether or not to assign any work to Karnan.

In January this year, Karnan went public with a list of 20 “corrupt” sitting and former High Court and Supreme Court judges. The Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Khehar summoned Karnan to explain why he should not face contempt of court proceedings.

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had termed Karnan’s charges as “disparaging and scurrilous” and asked the court to “set an example” to “make citizens aware that the Supreme Court will not hesitate to take action against anyone who brings administration of justice to disrepute even if the person is a high court judge.’’

Karnan appeared before the Supreme Court and demanded restoration of his judicial work, but the court refused to entertain his plea.

Last month, Karnan ordered registration of cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against CJI Khehar and six other judges for allegedly discriminating against him for being a Dalit.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ordered a medical test on Karnan to ascertain whether he was mentally sound. Karnan refused to undergo the medical test.

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  1. S
    Sankaran Krishnan
    May 10, 2017 at 4:07 pm
    But the query is whether Justice Karnan is arrested or not or he is under hide out and unable to face the SC and the general public !!! By his own act he brought disrepute to the post he occupies and proves he is unfit for the job and it is really a surprise how he came up in the life with such perverted at ude of mind !!!
    Reply
    1. B
      Bharathi
      May 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm
      Now in India is facing corruption , the origin of Corruption is from school study because rich people giving bribe / donation/spl fees to get private tuition in school level as well to study in higher study (college) after that, they get job by again giving bribe so the rich higher cl people to compensate the above bribe/donation they attempt to work dishonestly and involving corruption but most of dalit people studying with poor so dalit can not give any donation/ bribe so after hardly studying of dalit they plan to work honestly and protect the corruptive person this reaction will reflect to disturb the dalit by imposing fake charges agaist Dalit ( GOD SON named by iji beacause they are hard worker in any field ) So I think that in the same way Judge Thiru.Karnan fighting against corruption but no body help him . God will hear
      Reply
      1. B
        Bharathi
        May 10, 2017 at 2:36 pm
        Now in India is facing corruption , the origin of Corruption is from school study because rich people giving bribe / donation/spl fees to get private tuition in school level as well to study in higher study (college) after that, they get job by again giving bribe so the rich higher cl people to compensate the above bribe/donation they attempt to work dishonestly and involving corruption but most of dalit people studying with poor so dalit can not give any donation/ bribe so after hardly studying of dalit they plan to work honestly and protect the corruptive person this reaction will reflect to disturb the dalit ( GOD SON named by iji beacause they are hard worker in any field )
        Reply
        1. S
          S/Major/Hony Lt
          May 10, 2017 at 11:22 am
          There plenty in the country whose bread & butter is in the SC/ST Tag. 75 are using the name of Dr Ambedkar for extortion. Every nook & corner has Ambedkar forum. It is only to extract money from the public. I donot know why there is delay in sending Karnam to prison. First let him go the prison. That is the right place for him. If he comes out he will be a nuisance to society.
          Reply
          1. P
            PSR Ariyur
            May 10, 2017 at 10:52 am
            Karnan is right in his objectives. But the methodology through which he wanted to push through is erroneous. Due to his rather childish and silly way of activity, his objective is watered down and Karnan has become a comic character. Corrupt remain corrupt.
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            1. A
              Akashdeep Bohra
              May 10, 2017 at 10:24 am
              Nowadays Indian woman can have self respect .... Unfortunately a dalit can't whoever it may be,they will have to wait.
              Reply
              1. R
                Rakesh Agrawal
                May 10, 2017 at 10:00 am
                we accept power is supreme but this is dangours for democracy जस्टिस कर्णन को क्या इसलिये सजा दी गयी है की उन्होने 20 जजो के भ्रस्टाचार के बारे मे कार्यपालिका को लिखा व उस बारे मे जांच करने का आदेश दिया या सुप्रीम कोर्ट के जजो को भगवान मानने से इंकार कर दिया व सबसे अखिरी बात उन्हे मीडिया मे बात नही करने देने का आदेश पारित करना ए अपनेआप ही सब हालत को बयान कर देता है व किसी अंजान डर ( उनकी संभावित प्रतिक्रिया से हो सकने वाले नुकसान ) की ओर इशारा करता है या कुछ तो छिपाने की कोशिश तो नही हो रही है? अच्छा होता उनके आरोप की जांच के आदेश दिये जाते व खरा सोना आग मे तप कर बाहर आता
                Reply
                1. S
                  SUBBU.I
                  May 10, 2017 at 9:13 am
                  Justice KARNAN IS HARRASED AND PUNISHED BY RSS IDEOLOGY BASED RAJ BECAUSE HE IS DALIT AND FROM TAMIL NADU OF BLACK NDIANS WITHWHOM THESE SANGHI HIGH CL CC CITIZENS HAVE TO LIVE ADJUSTING THEM SELF.
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    Rabi Mishra
                    May 10, 2017 at 9:58 am
                    I thought Karnan was just one notorious . But you seem to be another in your absurd remark.
                    Reply
                    1. K
                      Kinjan
                      May 10, 2017 at 10:19 am
                      Just because someone is Dalit, it does not mean he is excused for all the mistakes that he does.
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        Ramesh
                        May 10, 2017 at 10:31 am
                        There are several SC/ST judges in various High Courts and Lower Courts who are doing exemplary work and dispensing justice with their deep knowledge of law and sense of responsibility. Karnam has brought disgrace and disrepute to the judicial system in general and the dedicated and honest SC/ST judges in particular. He is rightly punished by SC as he could not have been allowed to go scot-free after doing such mischief.
                        Reply
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