19 Nov 2020 2:09 PM GMT
A single Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday referred an original criminal petition, filed by the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu against retired High Court Judge, CS Karnan for passing rape threats and sexually coloured remarks against wives of judges, women lawyers and female court staff, to a Division Bench. Justice T Ravindran observed that it will be appropriate to put the...
A single Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday referred an original criminal petition, filed by the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu against retired High Court Judge, CS Karnan for passing rape threats and sexually coloured remarks against wives of judges, women lawyers and female court staff, to a Division Bench.
Justice T Ravindran observed that it will be appropriate to put the matter before the Division Bench which is already seized with another writ petition moved by the Council on the issue.
The petition stated that in a viral video shared by one Dr. M. Dhanasekaran, Karnan has used indecent, obnoxious, un-parliamentary language, threats against the wives of the Judges of the High Court and Supreme Court, both serving and retired.
The same was ordered to be blocked by a Division Bench ofthe High Court on November 10. Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha had observed therein:
"It is rather unfortunate to note that the ninth respondent (Karnan), who held an important constitutional post, has gone to such a level to repeatedly make scandalous, obscene, vituperative & unparliamentary remarks against former & sitting judges of SC & HC and their family members, especially women."
The Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, represented by Senior Advocate S Prabhakaran, has now moved the petition seeking registration of FIR/ initiation of appropriate proceedings against "unfortunate utterances" of the former Judge.
It is submitted that the statements in the circulated video amount to outraging the modesty of a woman; and knowledge, that modesty is likely to be outraged, is sufficient to constitute the offence.
The Council has complained that Karnan has become a "threat" to judicial and legal system through the social platform, making unethical, unparliamentarily comments against the judiciary and its functioning.
"His utterances are so demeaning that any person with a sense of social decency will refrain from watching it any further and it is only those who are perverted, would watch with sarcasm at the allegations made of the Courts and Hon'ble Judges both of the Hon'ble Supreme Court and this Hon'ble Court. It tends to bring an opinion about the system being flawed and the same directly affects the credibility of the great Institutions and derails the edifice of democracy," the Council said.
It is stated that the confidence in the courts of justice, which the people possess, cannot, in any way, be allowed to be tarnished by contumacious behaviour of any person.
The Council has acknowledged that the Judges cannot, given their constitutional position, defend themselves like other individuals, and it has therefore sought initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against Karnan.
"The only weapon of protecting itself from the onslaught to the institution is the long hand of contempt of court left in the armoury of judicial repository which, when needed, can reach any neck howsoever high or far away it may be," the petition read.
It is stated that while exercising the freedom of speech and expression, one must be mindful that maintenance of dignity of courts is one of the cardinal principles of rule of law in a democratic set up and any criticism of the judicial institution couched in language that apparently appears to be mere criticism but ultimately results in undermining the dignity of the courts cannot be permitted when found crossed the limits.
In 2017, the Supreme Court had found Karnan guilty of contempt for making scandalous corruption allegations against its sitting and retired judges.
SC Finds Justice Karnan Guilty Of Contempt Of Court, Awards Six Months Jail Term
Referring to this order, the Council submitted,
"CS Karnan is repeatedly making false, vague, scandalizing remarks and threatening the Judges in the Public Media which will have greater effect in disturbance of the Public confidence and faith over the judiciary and its integrity. In fact, by virtue of Article 143 of the Constitution, this Hon'ble Court has to act in aid to implement the orders of this Hon'ble Court and any further contempt would also be an act of illegality warranting appropriate legal action. No one can be allowed to make such indecent speeches and allegations against the highest Constitutional body."
During the hearing, Additional Public Prosecutor M Prabhavati informed the Bench that an FIR had already been registered against Karnan under Sections 153 and 509 of IPC r/w Section 67-A of the IT Act, based on a complaint made by certain Advocates.
Madras HC Lawyers Submit Complaint Before CJI Against Ex-Judge CS Karnan Over Objectionable Video
Last month, the Supreme Court had termed Karnan's attempt to barge into the house of Justice R Banumathi, retired SC judge, as 'unfortunate'.
"Whatever has happened is unfortunate. You should take all appropriate actions, including filing representation and complaint," a bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar observed while issuing notice in a petition filed by Delhi Tamil Advocates Association seeking action against Karnan for his conduct.
In May 2017, C S Karnan became the first sitting High Court judge to be held guilty of criminal contempt of court. A constitution bench of the Supreme Court sentenced him to six months imprisonment for his multiple acts of public utterances against judges and interference with the administration of justice. As a judge, Karnan had also extraordinary acts like passing a judicial order to stay his own transfer and issuing arrest warrant against Supreme Court judges.
After the sentence, he went into hiding. He was arrested a month later and was sent to Presidency Jail in Kolkata, where he underwent imprisonment till December 2017.