The Supreme Court today refused to grant bail to retired Calcutta High Court judge CS Karnan who has been sentenced to six-month imprisonment by the top court and was arrested in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu yesterday. Karnan had earlier on Wednesday moved the apex court seeking bail and suspension of six-month sentence awarded to him for contempt of court last month. Rejecting his plea, the Supreme Court said that the seven-judge bench had already passed an order and only the special bench could hear the plea.
A vacation bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul said the court was duty-bound by the order of the seven-judge bench on the case and Karnan should mention the matter before a bench of the chief justice.
Appearing for Karnan, advocate Mathew J Nedumpara said this court had all the powers and should grant the interim bail till the reopening of the court. To this, the vacation bench said it could not override the order of the seven-judge bench.
Karnan, 62, was arrested by the Kolkata Police from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday in a joint operation by the police of both states. 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.
He was today taken to Kolkata by a team of West Bengal Police. He was taken by a Chennai-Kolkata Air India flight by a six-member team of West Bengal Police at around 11.50 am, police said.
Police knew about Karnan's refuge in Coimbatore for three days
The police team searching for Karnan knew about his hiding place in Coimbatore, a resort at Malumichampatti, for three days before moving in to arrest him on Tuesday, the West Bengal police chief said.
"We knew about his (Karnan's) whereabouts three days back. We were tracking phone calls of people close to him and we also have our own sources," Director General of Police Raj Kanojia was quoted as saying by IANS.
Karnan was eluding arrest for more than a month. Karnan had also stayed in a resort in Panagad in Kochi with the help of some advocates. He moved to Coimbatore only a week ago from Kochi, according to a report in local Mathrubhumi News.
Kanojia spoke at the Chennai airport before boarding a flight to Kolkatta. According to him, this was a unique case he had handled in his entire service and "maybe no other police officer will be handling such a case in a long time to come".
"Tracking Karnan was difficult. It was a difficult case," Kanojia said.
Three police teams from Kolkata were camping in Coimbatore and traced Karnan on the basis of his mobile phone calls with the Tamil Nadu Police providing technical support to trace his whereabouts, a senior local police official had said.
According to a top police official, Karnan, who had been staying there for a week, resisted the arrest and argued with the police. However, he was taken into custody, he said.
First SC judge to retire while ‘absconding’
Karnan, who was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Supreme Court for contempt but was untraceable, retired earlier this month and became the first judge of a High Court to retire while ‘absconding’.
Three police teams from Kolkata were camping in Coimbatore 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.
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.
Enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu in 1983, Karnan was appointed a judge of the Madras High Court in 2009. He was transferred to the Calcutta High Court on March 11, 2016.