August 12, 2020


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Justice Karnan had termed 33 judges ‘corrupt’, received six months jail | India Information – Occasions of India

NEW DELHI: Ten former judges have endorsed a decision expressing concern over contempt proceedings in opposition to activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, termed it an try and stifle proper to free speech and demanded withdrawal of the contempt proceedings.
Contempt notices gained’t make Bhushan lose sleep. He’s seasoned by the Supreme Court docket’s quite a few contempt proceedings in opposition to him over the a long time — 2001 dharna by Narmada Bachao Andolan exterior the SC primary gate protesting in opposition to a judgment throughout which slogans questioning the integrity of judges and the equity of judiciary had been freely raised; 2009 media interview calling half of 16 former CJIs corrupt; and now tweeting concerning the alleged function performed by 4 former CJIs within the “decimation of democracy”. He additionally insinuated in opposition to the current CJI for sitting on a stationary bike with no masks or a helmet whereas maintaining the courts in lockdown to disclaim entry to justice to commoners.
Proper to free speech has been his argument to thumb his nostril at contempt proceedings. The gutsy advocate has by no means shied away from a possibility to harp on corruption amongst judges. He seldom put forth proof within the public domain. He selected to belief his intestine emotions and inferences.
When Bhushan was hitting the headlines together with his “half of 16 former CJIs are corrupt” insinuation, C S Karnan grew to become a choose of Madras HC. Flashing his Dalit card to play sufferer, Karnan tried to pulverise his colleagues within the HC by adopting a method much like Bhushan’s. He shot off letters periodically to the HC chief justice, the CJI and sometimes to the PM alleging corruption amongst judges. So long as his disagreeable accusations and theatrics as a self-proclaimed crusader had been confined to the HC, the SC was hardly perturbed.
Quickly, issues got here to a head. He levelled corruption expenses not solely in opposition to Madras HC judges but in addition defied the SC. The then CJI and 6 most senior SC judges got here on a bench to attract up contempt expenses in opposition to him and created historical past by continuing in opposition to a sitting HC choose. By that point, Karnan was already transferred from Madras HC to Calcutta HC.
The gist of what Karnan instructed the SC resembled Bhushan’s statements. The choose had mentioned, “My primary competition is barely to uproot corruption prevailing in Madras HC, and to not spoil the sanctity and decorum of the court docket. I battle for righteousness and for the welfare of most people of India. I reiterate as at all times, throughout the previous few years, concerning the excessive price of corruption within the courts I served and nonetheless serve in addition to the Supreme Court docket of India. I cannot stop my efforts and can proceed to battle till each wrongdoing is uprooted.”
On Could 9, 2017, the CJI-led seven-judge bench convicted Karnan for contempt of court docket and sentenced the sitting HC choose to 6 months imprisonment, a primary within the historical past of Indian judiciary.
On the bench had been Justices J Chelameswar and Madan B Lokur, who’ve now endorsed the decision expressing solidarity with Bhushan and termed his criticism of judges and the SC as proper to free speech to demand withdrawal of contempt proceedings.
Why did they not undertake the identical analysis course of whereas deciding the contempt expenses in opposition to Karnan? Why did they not write dissenting opinions differing with the bulk which punished Karnan and provides him a clear chit for exercising free speech in alleging corruption amongst judges?
Whereas convicting Karnan, the SC had mentioned, “Karnan’s public utterances turned the judicial system right into a laughing inventory. The native media, unmindful of the injury it was inflicting to the judicial establishment, merrily rode the Karnan wave. Even the international media had its dig on the Indian judiciary.”
Karnan had levelled corruption expenses in opposition to 33 judges, 14 of the SC and 19 of Madras HC. “Not one of the allegations levelled by Karnan had been supported by any materials,” the principle judgment, authored by then CJI J S Khehar and agreed to amongst others by Justice Lokur, mentioned.
Justice Chelameswar wrote a separate judgment concurring with the punishment awarded to Karnan. He mentioned, “Whether or not the varied allegations made by Karnan are primarily based on any proof to ascertain the reality of the allegations is a matter which can’t be examined in these proceedings.” And but he went on to present his view, “The allegations are too obscure and a few of them even incoherent.”
Justice Chelameswar enunciated two rules. First: “If the contemnor (Karnan) believes and has materials with him to ascertain that among the judges of Madras HC are corrupt or in any other case responsible of some offence identified to regulation, he’s required to strategy the suitable discussion board competent to look at these allegations.
Second: “Sadly, the contemnor seems to be oblivious of one of many elementary rules of regulation {that a} complainant/informant can’t be a choose in his personal grievance.”
Did Justices Chelameswar and Lokur apply these two rules to scrutinise Bhushan’s statements earlier than demanding withdrawal of contempt proceedings drawn up suo motu by the SC? If they’re proper on Bhushan, they had been certainly mistaken in writing or acquiescing to these harsh phrases and punishment for Karnan.
Recognising that “scandalising the court docket remains to be recognised to be an act of contempt of court docket”, Justice Chelameswar had mentioned, “Such conduct and motion (on the a part of Karnan), if tolerated, would definitely replicate a component of weak point within the system, no such weak point may be allowed to enter the system.”
Does “weak point” fertilise within the thought means of a choose after his retirement?

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