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Where is Justice Karnan? Trail goes cold as cops turn up at Tada, Tindivanam

LiveMint logoLiveMint 15-05-2017 PTI

Chennai: As the hunt for Calcutta high court judge justice C.S. Karnan dragged on, desperate police teams are at their wits end and still remained clueless about his whereabouts.

“Where is he(Karnan)?” was a question uppermost in the minds of police teams from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu which scrambled across towns for the sixth day on Monday and were on a wild goose chase to find and arrest the judge. They also stared at the possibility that the judge, who is on a warpath with the Supreme Court, may have fled the country.

The 61-year-old judge was last seen in public in Chennai on Tuesday, a couple of hours after the apex court ordered his arrest forthwith in a contempt case. With justice Karnan, who hailed from Tamil Nadu, remaining elusive, his disappearance and the plight of the police going round in circles also drew ridicule in social media.

The Supreme Court held Karnan guilty of contempt and sentenced him to a 6-month imprisonment, and directed his immediate arrest in an unprecedented order against a sitting high court judge. The court ordered West Bengal’s director general of police to carry out the arrest and lodge him in a jail.

“And in the end top police officers of two states of India are not able to locate a High Court judge—are we joking or this is the state of affairs of police and judiciary?” asked one Dinesh Jain. “If the intelligence cannot keep an eye on persons like Karnan, who has been in the news in the last 6 months if not more, can they be relied upon for other important duties?” was a question posed by another netizen.Targeting Karnan, a query was also posed—”a judge doesn’t believe in law and they claim they have the right to pass judgement.”

For the record, a senior police officer in Chennai told PTI on Monday, “The whereabouts of justice Karnan is not known yet. A West Bengal police team continues its search for him.” The role of Tamil Nadu police was limited to providing logistics and technical support to the visiting team, he said.

A local police team was liasioning with the West Bengal police personnel, who have already questioned several persons, including the kin of Karnan as part of efforts to locate him. Justice Karnan left for Chennai from Kolkata by an early morning flight on Tuesday last, hours before the apex court ordered his arrest.

Till couple of hours after the court order, justice Karnan, who was staying at the Tamil Nadu government state guest house in Chennai, was meeting media persons and visitors. He then went incommunicado when the full impact of the apex court ruling dawned on everyone.

A posse of policemen, headed by an assistant commissioner of police-cadre officer from Kolkata, landed in Chennai the next day. When the police team arrived at the guest house, it did not find either the judge or the two lawyers who had accompanied him.

Initially it was rumoured that justice Karnan was somewhere in Tindivanam, about 100 km from Chennai, and later it was said that he had gone to the temple town of Kalahasti in Andhra Pradesh but came back empty-handed.

Police teams also reportedly rushed to a holiday destination called Tada near Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border after picking his mobile phone signal. Word had also spread that Karnan had fled to Sri Lanka through Madurai, but that information turned out to be false as no one by the name of Karnan had passed through the Madurai airport customs.

Karnan moved the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking recall of the order holding him guilty of contempt of court and sentencing him to a six-month jail term. A petition on his behalf was mentioned before a five- judge bench headed by chief justice J.S. Khehar, which agreed to look into it.

Karnan’s lawyer again moved the apex court on Monday for relief but without success. When the Chief Justice of India asked about the whereabouts of justice Karnan, advocate Mathews J. Nedumpara, who mentioned the plea on behalf of the judge, said he is “very much in Chennai”.

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