SC moved seeking suspension of Karnan’s sentence

Justice Karnan

New Delhi, May 11 : Even as Calcutta High Court judge Justice C.S. Karnan’s whereabouts remain a mystery, the Supreme Court was moved on Thursday seeking suspension of the six-month sentence awarded to him for contempt of court, which the apex court has said it will consider.

Justice Karnan has sought stay of the May 9 order convicting him of criminal contempt of court and sentencing him to undergo imprisonment for six months till the final disposal of his petition filed on Thursday.

As Karnan’s counsel Mathew J. Nadumpara mentioned the petition before the Constitution bench, hearing the challenge to ‘triple talaq’, at the fag end of the proceedings on Thursday, Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, who is heading the bench, told the counsel that they will consider it.

When Nadumpara mentioned the petition, CJI Khehar asked: “Who are you?”

At this, the counsel said that he was appearing for Justice Karnan and produced the waqalatnama, or authorisation, by him, and said it had been notorised in Chennai.

Nadumpara told Chief Justice Khehar that he had approached a large number of lawyers (advocate of record) to file the petition “but they all refused as they are very afraid of you” (SC bench).

To this, the CJI asked, “Where is Karnan?”

Nadumpara answered: “He is in Chennai.”

CJI Khehar then said, “You have mentioned it, we will consider”, but gave no commitment.

Of the five-judge bench hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of “triple talaq”, only CJI Khehar and Justice Kurian Joseph are part of the seven-judge bench which had “unanimously” held Justice Karnan guilty of contempt and awarded him six months jail.

Karnan was said to have left the State Guest House in Chennai for the Shiva temple in Srikalahasti town in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.

Nadumpara later said that Code of Criminal Procedure should be read into Contempt of Court Act, 1971 and a person being proceeded under it should be presumed to be innocent till proved guilty.

Nadumpara said in the case of Justice Karnan he was convicted and held guilty without any charges framed against him.

Speaking for himself, Nadumpara said that if a person guilty of contempt offers a “conditional apology” and the same is accepted by the court then he would stand discharged from the conviction.

He said that he was saying this as a counsel and not on behalf of Justice Karnan.

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