Law

Former Calcutta High Court Justice C.S. Karnan Arrested in Tamil Nadu

Justice Karnan. Credit: PTIJustice Karnan. Credit: PTI

Justice C.S. Karnan. Credit: PTI

Kolkata: Former Calcutta high court judge Justice C.S. Karnan was today arrested by the West Bengal CID from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.

The CID acted on a Supreme Court order sentencing Karnan to six months jail for contempt of court.

“We have arrested former high court judge Karnan from south India,” a senior officer of the CID told PTI.

The apex court had sentenced Karnan to six months jail for contempt of court on May 9, when he was a serving judge of the Calcutta high court.

Karnan retired from service on June 12. He became the first high court judge to have retired as a fugitive.

Born on June 12, 1955, Karnan had been evading arrest since a seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar passed the unprecedented arrest order against him. Despite several attempts, Justice Karnan has failed to get any relief from the apex court’s vacation benches which refused to hear his plea seeking a stay of its jail term order. His lawyers also claimed to have approached President Pranab Mukherjee for exercising his power to stay the apex court’s order, but nothing has come of it so far.

The seven-judge bench had also asked the West Bengal director general of police to take Justice Karnan, who has been on a warpath with the Supreme Court for the last several months, into custody.

According to his lawyers, the ground taken in the application to the president was that the judge will be unable to exercise any remedy if he arrested.

After being sentenced to a six-month jail term, Justice Karnan had on May 12 moved the apex court for relief, saying neither the high courts nor their judges were “subordinate” to it. He had sought recall of the apex court’s order, contending he could not be held guilty of contempt of court.

Justice Karnan had said the Contempt of Courts Act was a “cathartic jurisprudence which belonged to the Dark Ages, the era of inquisition and torture, distinct from the classical Roman Law which constitutes the foundation of modern jurisprudence”.

He had also sought a stay on all “further proceedings” pursuant to the May 9 order.

Earlier, the apex court had issued a bailable warrant against him to secure his presence in the contempt case.

He had appeared before the apex court on March 31, a first in Indian judicial history, and had asked for restoration of his powers as a precondition for his re-appearance, but the plea was rejected.

Justice Karnan, who enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu in 1983, was appointed a judge of the Madras high court in 2009. He was transferred to the Calcutta high court on March 11, 2016. He was transferred from the Madras high court for his repeated allegations and run-ins with its then chief justice and fellow judges.

The high court judge had on February 15, 2016 stayed his transfer order, which was suspended by the Supreme Court.

The apex court had earlier even asked the chief justice of the Madras high court not to assign him any judicial work.

  • ashok759

    A saga that is more sad than sordid, for nothing has been placed in the public domain to suggest that Justice Karnan was a dishonest man. Perhaps he is paying a high price for the collegium choosing someone so obviously unfit to serve in the higher judiciary. Now that he has retired and also been arrested, once he begins to serve his sentence, the apex court may, in its compassion, be pleased to reduce the period of imprisonment.