As he kept police teams from two states on their toes, a defiant Calcutta High Court Judge Justice C.S. Karnan moved the Supreme Court seeking recall of its order holding him guilty of contempt and awarding a six-month jail sentence.
The move by Justice Karnan comes even as a Kolkata police team remained in Chennai for the second stay trying to execute the apex court order to arrest him.
A petition on Justice Karnan’s behalf was mentioned before a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, two days after the Apex Court ordered the West Bengal police to take him into custody forthwith for Contempt of Court. The bench agreed to look into the petition.
The plea was mentioned before the bench that also comprised justices Kurian Joseph, R.F. Nariman, U.U. Lalit and Abdul Nazeer, which had just concluded the day’s hearing on the issue of triple talaq.
According to Tamil Nadu police officials, their Kolkata counterparts held discussions with state DGP TK Rajendiran who said cooperation was being extended to the team, which arrived in Chennai.
A seven-judge bench of apex court headed by the CJI had passed the order sentencing Karnan to jail by holding him guilty of contempt of court and sentencing him to six months imprisonment. However, before the pronouncement of the Apex Court order, Justice Karnan had left Kolkata and headed to Chennai.
Justice Karnan, who was divested of his judicial and administrative powers following his tussle with the Supreme Court, had on 8 May passed an order against the seven-judge bench and another apex court judge. The seven-judge bench had initiated contempt of court proceedings against justice Karnan after he repeatedly leveled allegations of corruption against Madras High Court Chief Justice and other Judges.
While pronouncing him guilty of contempt and sentencing him, the court had cited Justice Karnan’s claim made before a medical team, which was sent to examine his mental condition, that he was “absolutely normal” and had a “stable mind”.
The Apex Court had also banned the media, both print and electronic, from publishing the contents of further orders passed by Justice Karnan, as also the statements made by him. The apex court had on 10 March issued a bailable warrant against Justice Karnan to ensure his presence before it in the contempt case. The warrant had come almost a month after the court had asked Justice Karnan to appear in person and explain why contempt proceedings not be initiated against him.
On 31 March, justice Karnan had appeared in the Supreme Court in the contempt case, a first in Indian Judicial History, and sought restoration of his powers as a precondition for his re-appearance, but the plea was rejected.
However, a belligerent Justice Karnan had told the court he would not appear before it again even if he was arrested and put in jail. He was transferred from the Madras HC for his repeated allegations and run-ins with its Chief Justice and fellow judges.
A recalcitrant Karnan had on 15 February 2016 stayed his transfer order, which was suspended by the Supreme Court. The apex court had earlier even asked the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court not to assign him any judicial work.