Former Justice Karnan works on memoir in jail, to enrol as lawyer upon release
A seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court sentenced Karnan to six months in prison on charges of contempt.india Updated: Aug 08, 2017 21:14 IST
Retired Calcutta high court judge CS Karnan, lodged in Presidency jail since June 21, has begun writing a memoir. The 62-year-old, who is India’s first serving judge to be sentenced to prison, has also planned to work as an advocate upon his release to take up “a bigger fight for judicial reforms”, Karnan’s legal counsel told HT.
“Justice Karnan remains highly spirited. He is spending time writing his memoir and reading books. He has a lot of things to tell people,” said Bijoy Adhikari, a Kolkata-based advocate who has visited Karnan several times inside the prison.
Adhikari is presently preparing a writ petition to be filed before a Calcutta high court bench, seeking its direction to the Bengal’s home department for the suspension of Karnan’s sentence of release on parole.
Karnan’s advocate Mathew J Nedupara’s appeal to Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi in this regard has been forwarded to the state home department.
A seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court sentenced Karnan to six months in prison on charges of contempt. On May 9, the bench ordered the police to arrest Karnan, who was due to retire in about a month’s time.
He was arrested from Coimbatore on June 20.
“Justice Karnan does not want to let his days in prison go in vain. He’ll continue his fight for reforms and transparency in the system. He is also planning to start work as an advocate, not for money, but out of his social responsibilities,” Adhikari said.
Karnan had started his legal career as an advocate enrolled with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu in 1983 and continued as a lawyer till 2009, when he was appointed a judge in the Madras high court. He was transferred to Calcutta high court in 2016.
It is unusual for retired judges to launch a new innings as an advocate, and Karnan’s foray, if he indeed takes it up, will be one of its kind.
In India, retired Supreme Court judges cannot practice law in any court of country but retired high court judges can practice in the apex court or in high courts in states where they have not served as a judge.
Karnan, therefore, cannot practice law in Madras high court and Calcutta high court.
Sources in Presidency said justice Karnan was offered to utilise the collection of books kept in the jail library. But he preferred to seek help from his friends, who send him the materials after following due procedure.
“Sometimes he reads till late in the night,” a source said. Jail authorities have taken steps to ensure other inmates keep a distance from the former judge, although jail officials interact with him regularly.
Adhikari and Mumbai-based lawyer Mathew J Nedumpara regularly keep in touch with Karnan. The judge’s wife and son have visited him twice.
Nedumpara, who leads National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms — a group of legal activists — expects Karnan to join their crusade.