Justice Karnan found guilty of contempt; to undergo 6 months imprisonment

Supreme Court: The 7-Judge Bench of Jagdish Singh Khehar, CJ and Dipak Misra, J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, PC Ghose and Kurian Joseph, JJ, found Justice C.S. Karnan, the sitting Judge of Calcutta High Court, guilty of contempt of court and imposed 6 months’ imprisonment upon him and as a consequence, he was barred from performing any administrative or judicial functions. The Court said that Justice Karnan’s actions constitute contempt of this Court, and of the judiciary of the gravest nature.

The Court had on 01.05.2017, directed that Justice Karnan may not be in a fit medical condition, to defend himself, in the present proceedings and hence he should be medically examined, before proceeding further. Following which Justice Karnan had not only refused to let the medical team examine him but also awarded 5 years imprisonment to the 7 members of the Bench along with R. Banumathi, J under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 for harassing a Dalit Judge by initiating a suo mot contempt proceeding against him and directing a medical examination. He had earlier barred the 8 Judges from travelling abroad and had suggested that they resign in the interest of the nation.

Noticing that the incident of contempt includes public statements and publication of orders made by the contemnor, which were highlighted by the electronic and print media, the Court directed that  no further statements made by him should be published hereafter.

Justice Karnan, who is a sitting judge of Calcutta High Court, had written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to take actions against the corrupt sitting and retired Judges of the Supreme Court and Madras High Court when he was a Judge of the Madras High Court and had passed an injunction against his own transfer orders. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had asked the Supreme Court to take suo motu action against the Judge to set an example. The Court hence, initiated the proceedings against him on 08.02.2017. [In Re: Justice C. S. Karnan, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 562, order dated 09.05.2017]

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