Chennai: He has switched off his phone and is being chased by the police of three states even as unconfirmed reports suggest he has left the country. The hunt for high court judge CS Karnan has gone from uncharted to unprecedented territory for policemen ordered to arrest him.
The Calcutta High Court judge was sentenced to six months’ jail on Tuesday by the Supreme Court – a first in the history of Indian judiciary.
Hours before the Supreme Court ruling, Justice Karnan had taken a very early flight from Kolkata to Chennai and checked himself into a state guest house.
The judge left the guest house yesterday, reportedly without clearing his bills, and was to travel to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh to visit a temple in Srikalahasti.
When a police team from Kolkata arrived at the guest house, they did not find either the judge or the two lawyers who had accompanied him.
The team then travelled to Andhra Pradesh but came back empty-handed.
As the police from Kolkata, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh coordinated on their mission to find the “missing” judge, there were unconfirmed reports that he had left the country and taken a flight “either to Bangladesh or Nepal or Singapore from Chennai”. Police officers did not discount the possibility that these rumours could be a red herring.
Those close to the judge suggest he will surface when he meets President Pranab Mukherjee. Some reports also said he planned to challenge his sentence in the Supreme Court.
The 61-year-old was found guilty of contempt by a seven-judge constitution bench, including Chief Justice JS Khehar, after he named 20 judges he said were “corrupt” earlier this year, and wrote to several people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking for an investigation.
The top court has banned the media from reporting any of his statements or rulings; Justice Karnan has defied the Supreme Court at every step by coming out with his own “rulings” against the seven judges, matching them order-for-order.
Soon after the jail sentence was pronounced, Justice Karnan called the media to his room in the Chennai guest house and hit out at the top court.