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Ex-judge Karnan's Statements Turned Judiciary into 'Laughing Stock': 7-judge SC Bench

Authored by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, the judgment said that Karnan’s actions of writing letters with grave allegations against other judges and making reckless statements brought the judiciary to disrepute and was thus an instance of criminal contempt of court.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:July 5, 2017, 10:59 PM IST
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Ex-judge Karnan's Statements Turned Judiciary into 'Laughing Stock': 7-judge SC Bench
Chief Justice of India JS Khehar.
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New Delhi: Former high court judge C S Karnan’s statements against judges of the Supreme Court and high courts turned the judicial system into a “laughing stock” and the foreign media also took its dig at the Indian judiciary, held the seven-judge bench in the apex court while sentencing Karnan to jail for six months for contempt.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court released its detailed order in Karnan’s case – 55 days after it pronounced him guilty and handed down the jail term.

Authored by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, the judgment said that Karnan’s actions of writing letters with grave allegations against other judges and making reckless statements brought the judiciary to disrepute and was thus an instance of criminal contempt of court.

“His public utterances, turned the judicial system into a laughing stock. The local media, unmindful of the damage it was causing to the judicial institution, merrily rode the Karnan wave. Even the foreign media, had its dig at the Indian judiciary,” rued the bench, also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph.

Describing the task at hand as “unpleasant”, the bench said that in the process of administration of justice, the individual’s identity, is inconsequential. “This has never happened. This should never happen…the actions of Karnan constituted the grossest and gravest actions of contempt of Court. He has also committed contempt, in the face of the Court. He is therefore liable to be punished, for his unsavoury actions and behavior. We are satisfied that he should be punished for his above actions, with imprisonment for six months,” it ordered.

The bench further noted that Karnan shielded himself from actions and levelled obnoxious allegations against innumerable Judges, “by trumpeting his position, as belonging to an under-privileged caste.”

It also clarified the May 9 direction about gagging the press from reproducing and publishing Karnan’s statements, and said that the order did not mean to prevent media from debating on the issue.

“The instant restraint order, however, does not prevent or hinder any public debate on the matter, academic or otherwise. We have not restricted, the media in any manner, other than, to the limited extent expressed above. We hope and expect, that a meaningful debate, would lead to a wholesome understanding of the issue, from all possible perspectives,” it said.
Karnan was sentenced to jail on May 9 by a four-page brief order but he was arrested on June 20 – more than a week after he retired as a judge. He is currently lodged in Kolkata’s Presidency Jail.

| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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