Justice Karnan May Be `Mad’, But Supreme Court Should Hear Him

The Supreme Court today ordered the arrest and jailing of Justice Karnan of Calcutta High Court for six months. Justice Karnan may be `mad’, but the court should listen to mad men too.

Justice Karnan May Be `Mad’, But Supreme Court Should Hear HimIn an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced that Calcutta HC judge CS Karnan be arrested immediately and jailed for six months. All this because he has been found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him.

The media has been banned from publishing any reaction or comments from the accused judge.

“If we don’t send Justice Karnan to jail then there will be a blemish that the Supreme Court condoned contempt by a judge,” a 7-judge bench headed by CJI J S Khehar said.

But, to put a stamp of fairness, the Supreme Court should give Justice Karnan a chance to defend himself. He has of course refused to appear before the Supreme Court bench, but the court could order arrest and body presence of Justice Karnan.

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To be heard is central to the principles of natural justice. This criteria should be fulfilled in letter and spirit, no matter what the mental condition of Justice Karnan is.

The court could also have sent a commission to hear Justice Karnan.

Today’s order of the Supreme Court could be used as a precedent to jail uncomfortable opponents in future. This could be dangerous.

Justice Karnan May Be `Mad’, But Supreme Court Should Hear HimJustice Karnan should be given ample and more opportunities to exhaust all his legal remedies guaranteed by the Constitution and the law. The court should go out of its way to allow Justice Karnan to present his side of the story – right or wrong.

Already, the faith in judiciary is fast eroding. The Justice Karnan verdict hopefully will not be a part of this unfortunate erosion.

Today’s order is unprecedented. This is for the first time that a sitting High Court judge would be arrested and jailed.

Taking a strong note of Justice Karnan’s remarks, the Supreme Court said, “Contempt power does not recognise who is what – a judge or a common man.”

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The top court also banned media from publishing the content of orders passed by Justice Karnan.

The order comes after Justice Karnan made series of controversial remarks against the top court judges.

Justice Karnan’s remark comes after contempt proceedings were initiated against him by the CJI-led bench after he continuously levelled corruption allegations against the Madras high court chief justice and other judges.

Karnan, who is set to retire in June, was stripped of his judicial and administrative powers by the SC on February 8. The best option would have been to impose a ban on Justice Karnan’s `judgements’ and allow him to retire next month.

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Raj Shankar

Shankar Raj is a senior journalist with more than 30 years experience, mostly with The Indian Express and The New Indian Express. He was the Editor for Karnataka and Kerala editions of The New Indian Express, and former Managing Editor of the Nyusu Digital Media P Ltd. Bengaluru.

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