Absconding since May 9 when a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court passed an unprecedented six-month imprisonment order against him, Calcutta High Court Judge Justice CS Karnan was today arrested by the Kolkata Police from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu in a joint operation by the police of both states.
Karnan, who became the first judge of a High Court to retire while being ‘absconding’ after being found guilty under the Contempt of Courts Act, will be brought to Kolkata tomorrow and taken to Presidency Jail. His arrest was confirmed by his lawyer Peter Ramesh, ANI reported.
According to a top police official, Karnan, who had been staying there for the last few days, resisted the arrest and argued with the police. However, he was taken into custody, he said.
"We have arrested former high court judge Karnan from south India," a senior officer of the CID told PTI in Kolkata.
Three police teams from Kolkata were camping here for the last three days and traced Karnan on the basis of his mobile phone calls. The police here gave the technical support to trace his whereabouts, the official here said. Karnan will later be taken to Kolkata, the police said. The arrest came eight days after the controversial former judge ended his tenure as a fugitive from law with no customary farewell being given to him in the Calcutta High Court in view of his absence.
In May, a seven-judge bench sentenced the judge to six-months jail finding him guilty of contempt of court. The order came a day after Karnan had ordered the arrest of eight apex court judges.
Karnan became the first sitting judge to face the Supreme Court wrath and earn an order directing him to undergo psychiatric analysis for mental stability. He is also the first to be ordered arrested while holding the constitutional office of a High Court judge.
The Supreme Court had also refused to list and hear his plea seeking recall of the order awarding six-month jail term for contempt of court. He had sought recall of the apex court order saying he could not be held guilty of 'contempt of court'. He had said if the allegations levelled by him were untrue, then "it would at the most amount to defamation".
"Under our constitutional scheme, high courts are not subordinate to the Supreme Court; high courts are as much independent as the Supreme Court is, though their orders could be judicially challenged in the Supreme Court, the latter being a Court of Appeal," the petition said.
Justice Karnan said the Contempt of Courts Act was a "cathartic jurisprudence which belonged to the Dark Ages, the era of inquisition and torture, distinct from the classical Roman Law which constitutes the foundation of the modern jurisprudence."
He has said the show cause notice issued by a seven judge bench to him on February 8 be declared "unconstitutional" as it was against "the principles of natural justice". He has also sought a stay on all "further proceedings" pursuant to the May 9 order holding him guilty of contempt and award of six months jail term.
On May 9, he was seen chatting with his visitors and reporters at the state guest house till a couple of hours after the top court’s arrest order. He then went underground without the knowledge of his personal security and protocol officials.