SC sends Justice Karnan to 6 months imprisonment for contempt

Justice C S Karnan

NEW DELHI, May 9: A seven-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said, “We are of unanimous view that Justice C S Karnan committed contempt of court, contempt of judiciary and the process.”

The bench also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph said that it is satisfied that Justice Karnan be sentenced for six months in jail

“The sentence shall be executed and he be taken into custody forthwith,” the bench said.

This is the first time that a high court judge is being sent to jail by the Supreme Court on charges of contempt.

The bench also banned the media, both print and electronic, from publishing the content of further orders, if passed by Justice Karnan.

The 61-year-old judge earned the top court’s ire after he named 20 ‘corrupt judges’ in the judiciary earlier this year and demanded an investigation alleging corruption.

He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging a probe.

The Supreme Court then transferred him from the Madras High Court to Kolkata – a decision he critiqued as victimisation since he was a Dalit.

Justice Karnan had on May 4 declined to undergo a mental health checkup as ordered by the Supreme Court, telling a team of doctors he was “absolutely normal” and had a “stable mind”.

The apex court has taken suo motu cognisance of various letters written by Justice Karnan against judges of the Madras high court and the Supreme Court and restrained him from exercising administrative and judicial power from February 8.

Justice Karnan appeared before the Supreme Court on March 31 in connection with the contempt proceeding, becoming the first high court judge to do so in the history of Indian judiciary.