SC jails a judge

The Supreme Court created two firsts in judicial history--it jailed a sitting high court judge, Justice C S Karnan of the Calcutta HC, for six months after convicting him for contempt of court, and it gagged the media from reporting his reaction to the order or his future statements.

The SC convicted Justice C S Karnan of gross criminal contempt of the apex court, judiciary and judicial process while sentencing him. It asked the West Bengal police chief to constitute a team to arrest Justice Karnan immediately and lodge him in jail.

Keeping in mind Justice Karnan's penchant for passing orders from his residence and handing them to the media to embarrass the CJI and SC judges, the bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph, in an unprecedented order, barred media from reporting any statement made by Justice Karnan in future.

Justice Karnan has been repeatedly passing judgments despite the SC initiating suo motu contempt proceedings against him on February 8 and stripping him of judicial and administrative work. During the three-month-long proceedings, Justice Karnan was required to be present before the court on four occasions but he presented himself only once on March 31. The court gave Justice Karnan the option of apologising and being let off. He spurned the offer.

Instead of appearing before the court, Justice Karnan `initiated' contempt proceedings against the CJI and six judges on the bench, imposed travel restrictions on them and ordered their medical treatment as a counter to the SC's May 1 order seeking his examination by a medical board to ascertain his mental health.

On Monday, Justice Karnan passed a purported order convicting the CJI and seven SC judges under various laws including SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and sentenced them to five years imprisonment in addition to fines.

Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, Madras high court's counsel K K Venugopal and SC Bar Association president Rupinder Singh Suri were unanimous in their view that the time had come to punish Justice Karnan.

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