— NEW DELHI
n a first in India’s judicial
history, the Supreme Court
on May 9 sentenced a sit-
ting high court judge —
Justice C.S. Karnan in
Calcutta — to six months in
jail for contempt following a
series of actions by the Dalit
judge, topped by his order of sen-
tencing the Chief Justice of India
and seven other apex court
judges to five years rigorous
“We are of the unanimous
view that Justice C.S. Karnan is
guilty of contempt of court and
interfered with judicial process of
grievous nature,” a seven-judge
bench headed by Chief Justice
J.S. Khehar said while holding
him guilty of contempt for his
utterances against the Chief
Justice of India and other judges
of the apex court.
“We sentence him to imprisonment for six months,” the
bench ruled. “The sentence shall
be extended forthwith,” it
observed bringing to an end a
long showdown between Karnan
and judges of the Madras High
Court when he was part of it and
later with the apex court judges.
Karnan had written to Prime
Minister Narendra Modi in
January about alleged corruption
in the Indian judiciary.
The judge was sentenced in
absentia and West Bengal Police
were ordered to constitute a
team immediately to arrest
Karnan, whose tenure comes to
an end in June.
West Bengal Police Chief Anuj
Sharma, however, told IANS that
he was waiting for the Supreme
Court order before he could “
proceed accordingly.” But Karnan
had reached Chennai where he
was staying in the State Guest
House at Chepauk.
Senior Advocate K.K.
Venugopal, appearing for
Karnan, asked the court if it can
wait for his retirement and not
sentence a sitting judge of a High
Court. Khehar said the court cannot make such distinctions to
punish for contempt. The bench
also said it was satisfied in punishing him. In its order, the
Supreme Court also restrained
the print and electronic media
from carrying statements by
The sentencing followed a
series of “judicial orders” the
controversial judge had passed
even after being stripped of judicial work.
What apparently came as the
final straw was the order issued
by Karnan on May 8 delivering
five years of rigorous imprison-
ment to the Chief Justice of India
and seven other Supreme Court
judges and imposition of a fine of
Rs 100,000 [$1,500] on each of
them under the Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes
(Prevention of Atrocities) Act of
1989 and the amended Act of
The apex court had earlier
asked all courts and tribunals not
to take cognizance of any orders
issued by the judge.
Karnan had taken on the top
judiciary after he wrote a letter to
Modi accusing various judges
and officers of the Madras High
Court of corruption.
The Supreme Court initiated
contempt proceedings against
Karnan on Feb. 8 and restrained
him from performing judicial and
In his January letter, he said
corruption charges against the
judges could be proven if investigated by competent officers of
the central agencies.
After this, the Supreme Court
issued a warrant on March 10
against Justice Karnan.
He appeared before the
Supreme Court on March 31 —
becoming the first sitting High
Court Judge to do so in a contempt case.
High Court Judge Jailed
Sentence for contempt is first for Indian judiciary
By Alexandre Marchand
hrough sombre black and
white drawings, graphic
novelist Malik Sajad tells
the brutal story of his native
Kashmir in the 1990s, as an
armed insurgency against Indian
rule reached its bloody peak.
Sajad’s debut graphic novel
“Munnu” is his account of growing up in the Kashmir Valley,
one of the most spectacular but
also most heavily militarized
places on earth.
The story is set in Srinagar,
the main city in Indian-adminis-tered Kashmir, against a backdrop of clashes, curfews and
arbitrary detentions as the
Indian army suppressed a separatist insurgency that reached its
peak in the 1990s.
“You grow up grappling with
paranoia. And also cynicism a little, but a cynicism informed by
reality,” the 29-year-old told
AFP in an interview in Srinagar,
where he recently returned after
a decade abroad.
The shopping center where he
agrees to meet is deserted and
despite the breathtaking scenery
that surrounds it, Srinagar has
an air of sadness.
“I prefer when it rains here,
When it is sunny, it becomes
really unsettling,” said Sajad.
The black and white drawings
in the novel have the jarring,
Rather than having human
features, the Kashmiris in the
story are represented as hanguls
— a local species of deer endan-
gered because the army has
encroached on its habitat.
Sajad started drawing cartoons for newspapers at the tender age of 13 and went on to
But said he always felt a close
affinity with literature, making
the graphic novel format an
‘People die like flies’— He
believes the lives of all in
Kashmir are shaped by the
“volatile atmosphere” of the
region, where an anti-India
insurgency has claimed thousands of lives since 1989.
The Kashmir valley has been
tense since last month, when
eight people were killed by
police and paramilitaries during
election day violence.
Dozens of Kashmiris were
killed last summer in violent
clashes between government
forces and stone-throwing protesters angered by the death of a
charismatic and popular rebel
leader in a police shoot-out.
The mountainous region is
held in part by Pakistan and
India, but claimed in full by
both, and has triggered two of
the three wars fought by both
since their independence from
Britain nearly 70 years ago.
Thousands of soldiers from
both sides still face off along the
disputed frontier known as the
Line of Control.
Sajad’s book was published in
2015 in Britain, but it took another six months for it to come out
He says he never found out
why, but his publisher told him
authorities were slow to provide
the ISBN number that all published books must have.
Despite its controversial subject matter, the book appears to
have gone down well in India,
where Sajad is often invited to
lecture at universities.
Two young readers even
made the journey to Srinagar to
see for themselves the scene of
the book and try to meet him —
though it was not until later that
he learned of their journey.
He said he wanted to tell a
story on a human level, far from
the great geopolitical game
between India and Pakistan.
Sajad said: “Unfortunately, in
this part of the world human life
is not important. It’s not just in
Kashmir, it’s everywhere, people
die like flies.”
He added: “Human lives do
not have any value in South
Kashmir’s Brutal Stories Get Cartoon Treatment
Malik Sajad’s debut novel is about growing up in the valley
Calcutta High Court judge Justice Chinnaswamy Swaminathan Karnan, center,
gestures as he speaks with Indian police personnel in Kolkata, May 4.
INDIA ABROAD May 19, 2017 27 INDIA