Questions To The Chief Justice of India on Justice C.S. Karnan’s Imprisonment Order



  1. The seven judge Constitution Bench – which sentenced Justice C.S. Karnan to six months imprisonment for contempt of court through its order dated 9 May, 2017 states “Detailed order to follow”. Though thirty days have elapsed why has the detailed order not been made public till date through the Supreme Court’s official website(s) both old and new?

We have sent two emails[*] and one sms to the Registrar, Supreme Court of India; Public Relations Officer, Supreme Court of India; and the Chief Justice of India dated 30 May, 2017, 31 May, 2017 & 1 June, 2017 respectively enquiring if any order beyond the 9 May, 2017 order has been passed in the said case. No reply has been forthcoming from any quarter.


  1. Without the detailed order being written by the seven judges and made available to the public, how can the next legal step be effectively undertaken? How can the gag order on the media be challenged, for instance?


  1. The philosophy behind the contempt of court proceedings is to ensure that the majesty of the law and the courts is upheld. Since the Director General of Police, West Bengal has not been able to locate Justice C.S. Karnan or arrest him as per the order, how can the majesty of the law and courts be now seen to be upheld? One is not even sure whether Justice C.S. Karnan is dead or alive.


  1. After the 9 May, 2017 order has the Supreme Court taken any steps to ensure the well-being of Justice Karnan? Reportedly Justice Karnan suffers from unstable diabetes and his blood sugar can go up or down which could be fatal.


  1. If a habeas corpus petition were to be filed in the apex court how would it result in Justice Karnan being traced when the Court’s own order dated 9 May, 2017 has not ensured the whereabouts of Justice Karnan being located by the West Bengal police?


  1. During the summer vacation break while another five judge Constitution Bench was hearing the triple talaq case – of which you are a member – the learned counsel for Justice C.S. Karnan had brought it to your notice through a ‘mention’ that a dozen advocates-on-record in the Supreme Court have refused to file Justice Karnan’s petition to seek a review of the Court’s verdict because they are ‘scared of you’. What action has been taken against these advocates-on-record?


  1. Incidentally there are hundreds of cases (over 700 till 2010) involving constitutional validity or constitution of larger benches lying pending in Supreme Court for years – even decades – for regular hearing. The stated reason for not taking up these cases is that judges are not free to constitute larger benches. When you had taken up as the CJI you had assured that no cases would be taken up out of turn (as per media reports dated 14 January, 2017). The importance of triple talaq case cannot be understated. You had on 30 March, 2017 along with two other judges Justices N.V. Ramana and D.V. Chandrachud ordered that a five-judge constitution bench will rule on the constitutional validity of the practice oftriple talaq. May we remind you Sir, that on 2 February, 2016 the bench comprising the then Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, Justice Anil R. Dave and your good-self while hearing the curative petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377, Indian Penal Code had ordered that these petitions be placed before a Constitution Bench comprising five Hon’ble Judges of this Court. The whole world knows Modi Government’s stance on triple talaqas also on Section 377, IPC.  Great hurry was shown in constituting a Constitution Bench for triple talaq case when long pending equally important – if not more important – cases  requiring Constitution Benches are lying in cold storage for years. Why was the first come first served principle not adhered to in deciding which case to take up first viz triple talaq or Section 377, IPC? Both involve human rights violations respectively of two minorities i.e. Muslim women; and sexual minorities. Even at this late stage the curative petitions on Section 377, IPC can be taken up on an urgent basis during your term itself.


  1. Since Justice P.C. Ghose had his last working day as the 9 May, 2017 itself and also has since retired on 27 May, 2017 how would the detailed order of the same seven judges be now delivered? As the Supreme Court official website does not show the promised detailed order till date, citizens would have valid apprehensions about the validity of an order written by six of the seven judges instead of the full coram. How would this anomaly uphold the majesty of the law and court? Would this not entail proceedings against Justice C.S. Karnan to be quashed and started afresh?


  1. Since you are due to retire on 27 August, 2017 would you, Sir, give a commitment that you would not accept any post-retirement assignment which the Government of India may offer to you? Such a commitment would be in the best of the traditions set by a former Chief Justice of India, Justice R. M. Lodha who had made such a commitment ahead of his retirement. Public memory is afresh about how a Chief Justice of India bagged the coveted post at the International Court of Justice, The Hague just as a Supreme Court assisted ‘settlement’ was arrived at in the Bhopal gas tragedy case. Reportedly a post at the ICJ is falling vacant in the near future.



Yours truly,

Dr. P.S. Sahni,

Member, PIL Watch Group


[*]“PIL Watch Group <[email protected]> 30 May 2017 at 14:08
To: [email protected]
 Kind Attn: The Registrar, Supreme Court of India


This is with reference to the SuoMotu Contempt Petition (C)      NO.1/2017 titled “In re: Sri Justice C.S. Karnan” pending in the Supreme Court of India before a special seven judge bench presided over by the hon’ble Chief Justice of India. The last order passed by the bench is dated 09 May, 2017 as per the official website of the Supreme Court of India.

As the issue is of immense public importance kindly let us know if any further order has been passed in the said case.


Yours sincerely,

Dr. P.S. Sahni,

Secretary, PIL Watch Group”



(Dr. P.S. Sahni can be contacted at [email protected].)

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