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Bringing Justice Karnan to justice proves elusive as police search high and low

Press Trust of India  |  Chennai 

How hard can it be to find a judge? Apparently very hard if the judge in question is CS Karnan. Desperate police teams from to are at their wits end as they hunt for the Calcutta High judge, hoping to capture him and bring him to justice. But the 61-year-old has proved to be as elusive as he has been brash, defying the Supreme and passing his own judgements against his peers. Clues of his possible whereabouts in a temple town in or a holiday resort in have proved to be dead ends. Police are now staring at the possibility that Karnan, who was last seen in Chennai, may have fled the country, perhaps to A senior police officer in told PTI today: "The whereabouts of Justice Karnan are not known yet. A police team continues its search for him." He said the role of police was limited to providing logistics and technical support to the visiting team. Karnan's flight from justice -- the Supreme ordered him arrested six days ago on contempt of charges -- has provided endless fodder for mirth and ridicule by netizens, not only against the country's security apparatus but also against the judiciary itself. "And in the end top police officers of two states of India are not able to locate a High judge - are we joking or this is the state of affairs of police and judiciary?" asked Dinesh Jain, contributing his comments to a chorus of readers' reaction to a article on a national newspaper's website. The Supreme on Tuesday sentenced Karnan, a native of Chennai, to six months' imprisonment, and directed his immediate arrest in an unprecedented order against a sitting high judge. The ordered West Bengal's to carry out the arrest and lodge him in a jail. "If the Intelligence (apparatus) cannot keep an eye on persons like Karnan, who has been in the in the last 6 months if not more, can they be relied upon for other important duties?" said another netizen in the readers' comments section. Targeting the judiciary, another reader posted: "a judge doesn't believe in law and they claim they have the right to pass judgement." The police team has already questioned several persons, including Karnan's kin. Karnan left Kolkata for by an early morning flight on Tuesday, hours before the apex ordered his arrest. Until a couple of hours after the order, Karnan, who was staying at the government state guest house in Chennai, was meeting and discussing nonchalantly with journalists and visitors.

He then went incommunicado when the full impact of the apex ruling dawned on everyone. A posse of policemen, headed by an assistant commissioner of police-cadre officer from Kolkata, landed in the next day. When the police team arrived at the guest house, it did not find either the judge or the two lawyers who had accompanied him. Initially it was rumoured that Karnan was somewhere in Tindivanam, about 100 km from Chennai, and later it was said that he had gone to the temple town of Kalahasti in But the police team came back empty-handed. They also reportedly rushed to a holiday destination called Tada near Tamil Nadu-border after picking his mobile phone signal. Word also spread that Karnan had fled to through Madurai, but that information turned out to be false as no one by the name of Karnan had passed through the Madurai airport customs. Karnan moved the Supreme on Thursday seeking recall of the order holding him guilty of contempt of and sentencing him to a six-month jail term. Karnan's troubles started after he was transferred to Calcutta from the Madras High for his repeated allegations and run-ins with its chief justice and fellow judges. He claimed he was being discriminated against and being denied promotions because he is a dalit. Last year, a recalcitrant Karnan stayed his own transfer order, which was suspended by the Supreme Later, a constitution bench initiated contempt of proceedings against Karnan after he repeatedly levelled allegations of corruption against Madras High chief justice and other judges. On March 10 this year, the apex issued a bailable warrant against Karnan to ensure his presence before it in the contempt case. Karnan appeared before the on March 31, a first in Indian judicial history, and sought restoration of his judicial powers. The plea was rejected. A belligerent Karnan told the Supreme he would never again appear before it, even if he was arrested and put in jail. Since going underground, Karnan's lawyer has repeatedly asked the Supreme for hearings against its sentence. A frustrated Supreme today told the lawyer, Mathews J Nedumpara to stop seeking the hearings. "We are saying no and yet you continue to come again and again. We are liberal to you. It is for you to understand, we can be liberal and harsh," said a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar. Earlier, when Kehar bad asked Nedumpara about Karnan's whereabouts, the lawyer said he is "very much in Chennai". But whether the judge intends to emerge and surrender anytime soon is anybody's guess.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 15 2017. 21:07 IST