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20 Dec 2017

The controversial Justice Karnan leaves prison after six months

Justice CS Karnan out of prison

Justice CS Karnan, known for his controversial statements and the infamous standoff with India's apex court, has been released after six months in prison for contempt.

Justice Karnan holds several records: the first sitting HC judge to be sentenced to jail, and the first judge to have a psychiatric evaluation ordered by the SC, among others.

We chart his thrilling journey in the judiciary.

In context

Justice CS Karnan out of prison
Justice Karnan's controversial stint at the Madras HC


Justice Karnan's controversial stint at the Madras HC

Justice Chinnasamy Swaminathan Karnan, born in June 1955, completed his LL.B from Madras Law College and was appointed as a Madras HC judge in 2008

During his stint, he accused several colleagues, including Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, of discrimination against him for being Dalit.

In 2015, he initiated contempt proceedings against Justice Kaul. The SC stayed the order and transferred him to Calcutta.


Justice Karnan's war against the SC

Then began the SC-Justice Karnan war: he passed a stay on his own transfer order, and when a two-judge bench lifted the stay, he ordered charges against them under the SC/ST atrocities law.

After he wrote an open letter accusing 20 judges of corruption, a seven-judge SC bench ordered his psychiatric evaluation; he retaliated by ordering the 'Delhi DGP' to produce them before him.

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The several 'firsts' by Justice Karnan


The several 'firsts' by Justice Karnan

Justice Karnan has several 'firsts' to his name: he was the first judge to move the National Commission for SCs and STs alleging harassment by colleagues (he is a Dalit).

He was the first to barge in on a hearing of another bench and demand to be made a litigant.

He was also the first to retire while absconding.


Now that Karnan's out of prison, what will he do?

On May 9, the SC sentenced Karnan to six months' imprisonment for contempt of court. He vanished from Chennai the same day.

He was eventually arrested on June 20 from Coimbatore, after spending more than a month in hiding.

On December 20, he was released from Kolkata's Presidency Jail.

Will Justice Karnan continue his war against the SC? We'll have to wait and watch!

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