The Supreme Court on Monday turned down former Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan’s plea for an urgent hearing on his petition seeking bail and recall of its order convicting him for contempt of court and sentencing him to six months in jail. “Declined. We will not accept an oral request against the judgment,” a bench comprising Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
The observation came as Karnan’s counsel mentioned before the court that the retired judge was serving his jail term and his petition may be heard urgently. Karnan, who is the first high court justice to be sentenced to prison while in service, has made several futile attempts to knock on the Supreme Court’s door seeking relief since he was sentenced by a seven-judge special bench for contempt of court that ordered the West Bengal DGP to take him into custody forthwith.
However, the former judge went underground and could be arrested only on June 20, a week after he retired as high court judge on June 12. He was picked up by the West Bengal CID from Coimbatore. On June 21 too, a vacation bench of the court had turned down his plea saying: “The matter has been heard by a seven-judge bench and order has been passed. The order is binding on us. We in vacation cannot override it. It is nothing we can do.”
Karnan (62), who retired on June 12 as Calcutta High Court judge, was arrested on June 20 by the West Bengal CID. He had been in Coimbatore since May 9 when the SC held him guilty for contempt of court and sentenced him to six-months imprisonment.
Karnan has the dubious distinction of being the first sitting high court judge to be awarded a jail term by the SC and also the first to have retired as a fugitive. Despite several attempts, Karnan has failed to get any relief from the Supreme Court vacation benches, which have refused to hear his plea seeking a stay of its jail term order.