The Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced Calcutta High Court judge Justice C.S. Karnan to six months in jail while holding him guilty of contempt.
It was a landmark ruling, as it is for the first time ever that a sitting High Court judge has been sentenced. The Supreme Court has ordered the immediate arrest of Karnan. The seven judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar was hearing the contempt petition against Karnan.
Justice Karnan earlier on Monday sentenced Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and six other SC judges to five-year rigorous imprisonment after holding them guilty under the SC/ST Atrocities Act-1989 and amended Act of 2015.
Along with CJI, six judges – Justice Dipak Misra, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Kurian Joseph – had initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan in February after he had named 20 “corrupt judges,” seeking a probe against them.
Justice Karnan had alleged this was done because he is a Dalit. Justice Karnan on May 2 directed the court’s registrar to issue non-bailable warrant against these seven Supreme Court judges. He tagged the apex court judges as ‘accused’ for not being present.
On May 1, in response to the apex court ordering an examination of his ‘mental health’, Justice Karnan asserted that he would issue a suo moto suspension order against West Bengal Director General of Police (DGP) if he forcefully conducted a medical checkup.
Karnan further asserted that the DGP should take all the seven accused judges for medical test too. Earlier, the apex court constituted a medical board to examine the mental condition of Justice Karnan on May 5 and also directed the DG West Bengal to assist the medical board to get justice Karnan examined.
The Supreme Court said in its order that High Courts, any tribunal and authority would not take any cognizance on the orders passed by Justice Karnan. Earlier, in an unprecedented move, the apex court had invoked its powers to initiate contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan, for writing letters casting aspersions on several judges.
Justice Karnan has been accused of circulation of disparaging letters against sitting High Court judges of the Madras High Court. He also allegedly wrote about Supreme Court judges in his letters to the Prime Minister’s Office.