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Q. Justice Karnan case: Comment on contempt of court issue against Justice Karnan.
May 11, 2017 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

The Supreme Court of India, recently held Calcutta High Court Judge C.S. Karnan guilty of contempt of court, judiciary and judicial process and sentenced him to six months imprisonment. Judges are unanimously opined that Justice Karnan has committed contempt of court, judiciary and judicial process of the gravest nature. Many observers felt it as unfortunate event that the Supreme Court’s efforts to discipline Justice Karnan has had to end in a six-month prison term for contempt of court. 

Issue- 

Justice Karnan, though made it a habit to bring the institution into ridicule by his aberrant behaviour, but his arrest will undoubtedly mark an abysmally low moment in the country’s judicial history.

Analysis-

  • Justice Karnan’s various actions have been termed by the Supreme Court as contempt of court, judiciary and judicial process of the gravest nature.
  • Repeatedly justice Karnan has made it a habit to bring the institution of judiciary, into ridicule by his aberrant behaviour.   
  • Justice Karnan had not only flung irresponsible charges of corruption against several judges, but also sought to make political capital out of his Dalit identity.  
  • In this background, the the court probably had few options but to act in defence of its reputation by holding him guilty of contempt of court.
  • But holding him for contempt of court and making arrest of him will undoubtedly mark an abysmally low moment in the country’s judicial history.
  • Hence it remains a pertinent question whether the court could not have waited for his imminent retirement so that the country is spared the unseemly event of a high court judge being arrested while in office. 
  • It is doubtful whether sending him to jail will achieve anything other than possibly encouraging him to play martyr and portray himself as a victim in his ‘war’ against judicial corruption. 
  • That the only punishment that the highest court could come up with against a sitting high court judge was imprisonment speaks volumes about the total absence of any disciplinary mechanism short of impeachment to deal with contumacious conduct by a member of the higher judiciary.

Conclusion-

The case of Justice Karnan has raised the various issues associated with Judiciary. It is true that, the justice Karnan has made various attempts to ridicule the judiciary. But holding him under contempt of court and making arrest of him does not solve the problem. Instead of arresting the other process either waiting till his retirement or till other actions like impeachment process, as it will mark an abysmally low moment in the country’s judicial history.


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