HC ex-judge Karnan walks free after serving 6-month sentence

Former Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan was released from jail today after serving a six-month sentence for contempt of court awarded to him by the Supreme Court on 9 May.

Justice Karnan (62) was arrested from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu on 20 June after evading the police for over a month. He had earned the dubious distinction of becoming India's first sitting high court judge to have been sentenced to jail (See: Denied bail by SC, absconding ex-judge Karnan tracked down, arrested).

Karnan left the Presidency Correctional Home premises in Kolkata around 11 am, wearing a suit and a blue tie (in Bengal, jails are called correctional homes). He was escorted by the police and prison officials. His wife Saraswati Karnan and elder son, who reached the city last night from Chennai, accompanied him.

Counsel Mathew J. Nedumpara said Karnan would stay in Kolkata for a few days.

"His physical condition is stable now. Karnan will stay in Kolkata for the next few days as he has some personal works pending. He will move to Chennai after that," Nedumpara told IANS.

Saraswati Karnan, a professor of economics in a Chennai college, said she had last met her husband at the Presidency Correctional Home in Kolkata a month and a half ago, and found him ''in good spirits and health''.

The apex court had sentenced Karnan to six months in jail for contempt of court while he was a serving judge of the Calcutta High Court.

A seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, had asked the West Bengal Director General of Police (DGP) to take Justice Karnan, who was at war with the apex court for months, into custody.

The Supreme Court had earlier issued a bailable warrant against the judge to secure his presence before it in connection with the contempt case.

Justice Karnan had appeared before the apex court on 31 March, a first in the country's judicial history, and asked for restoration of his judicial powers as a pre-condition for his re-appearance, but the plea was rejected.

Justice Karnan, who enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu in 1983, was appointed a judge of the Madras High Court in 2009. He was transferred to the Calcutta High Court in March 2016.

He was transferred from the Madras High Court for his repeated allegations against and run-ins with the then Chief Justice and fellow judges of the court.