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Former HC judge CS Karnan arrested in Chennai over remarks on judges

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 03-12-2020 Arun Janardhanan
a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Indian Express

Former judge of the Calcutta and Madras High Courts, Justice C S Karnan, was arrested in Chennai on Wednesday by the cybercrime wing of the city police, for allegedly uploading a video containing “obscene, defamatory remarks” against several former and serving judges of Supreme Court and High Court, their wives, and woman judges.

The police team arrested Karnan from his residence on the outskirts of the city. He had been booked in October last week under Sections 153 and 509 of the IPC on a complaint by a senior lawyer of the Madras HC to Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde.

In the video, which was doing the rounds on social media, Karnan was purportedly seen making objectionable comments against women, threatening sexual violence against people in the judiciary, spouses of judges and judicial officers.

He alleged that some judges of the SC and the HC had “sexually assaulted women court staff and women judges,” and even named those alleged victims. The complaint sent to CJI Bobde said Karnan’s statements amount to “a horrific act of violence and an affront to the dignity of all women” and that his statements “reveal a deep-rooted misogyny and are an assertion of patriarchal construction of gender and sexuality, where women are considered as private property of men.”

After his arrest, Karnan was taken to the city police commisionerate before being taken to the magistrate for judicial custody.

a group of people standing in front of a building © Provided by The Indian Express A file picture of Justice Karnan at Presidency Jail in Kolkata. (Photo: Express)

Two months ago, Karnan had also faced complaints of trespassing into the residence of Supreme Court judge Justice R Banumathi at Kalashetra Colony near Thiruvanmiyur. The police registered a case against five men in this regard, but Karnan was not named in the case.

He had courted controversy during his service as well, and faced six-month imprisonment by a seven-judge bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India JS Khehar in May 2017, for contempt of SC, judiciary and the judicial process.

He was sent to prison hardly six months before his retirement as a judge of Kolkata HC. Before his stint in Kolkata HC, Karnan had faced several corruption allegations in Madras HC. Karnan used to claim that it was his Dalit background that made him a target of the top judiciary.

Karnan was notorious for his self-styled orders; many released on his personal letterheads, against the senior-most judges of SC and the Madras HC. During his tenure in Madras HC, he had even threatened contempt of court proceedings against the then CJ of Madras HC, Sanjay K Kaul. And a seven-judge bench of SC had, at one point, before he was sentenced to prison, ordered him to be medically examined by a board of doctors in Kolkata as they wondered whether Justice Karnan was “feigning mental imbalance.” This order was following Karnan’s order, from Kolkata HC, directing CJI Khehar and seven SC judges to appear before him in Kolkata on May 1, 2017.

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