A law student in any university anywhere in the world is taught that before convicting a person of a crime a detailed reasoned judgement ought to be ready. In fact in criminal cases the judgement convicting a person is pronounced on a particular day; and the quantum of punishment is announced later after the lawyers have had a chance to argue on it. In Justice C.S. Karnan’s case the order of conviction and punishment and imprisonment was pronounced on the same day i.e. 9 May, 2017 in his absence; the detailed reasoned judgements– actually two separate but concurring judgements – as per media reports were made available on the Supreme Court website only on 5 July, 2017. These judgementsare said to have been given by the then seven senior most judges of the Supreme Court. Any law student anywhere in the world would naturally be aghast at the violation of a fundamental principle of the justice system. And this is not the only fallacy.
One of the judges who gave the majority judgement had retired on 27 May, 2017; which means that the signatures of all of these judges should have been affixed by 27 May, 2017. But was it done?
From 9 May, 2017 till date Karnan’s lawyers had been trying to get the attention of the Court – both during and after the summer vacation – through the process of ‘mentioning’ before the relevant bench of the time. In fact most of the time Karnan’s lawyers were treated shabbily, threatened with eviction from the court. In one instance Karnan’s lawyers were told to approach the Court after a month i.e. after the vacation. When they did so after the summer break, they were told not to disturb the court proceedings!
It reminds one of how people from the Scheduled Caste community were treated in the last two millennium as and when they tried to enter the holy precincts of a temple in India. Mostly they were kicked out of the temples. Sufi saints like Nanak and Ramdev have captured it well in their verses five centuries back. So even today a Dalit judge like C.S. Karnan is being treated in the same way; one just has to read about how his lawyers had been treated in the Supreme Court from 9 May, 2017 onwards to be convinced about this.
Could it be that one of the judges had actually retired and not affixed his signature on the judgement; so efforts were being made behind the scene for a ‘resolution of this technicality’? This scenario seems more likely than the contrived projection that all the judges in the majority judgement had affixed their signatures on or before 27 May, 2017.
Now that Justice Karnan’s case seeking bail and challenging his six months sentenceis provisionally listed for 7 July, 2017, the timing of the reasoned judgements being made available on 5 July, 2017 raises suspicion. The entire national press (print and t.v. channels) is at the service of the establishment to damn Justice C.S. Karnan. Lest people in India have forgotten, the same seven wise judges of the Supreme Court had put a gag on the press to the effect that Justice Karnan’s statements were not to be carried w.e.f. 9 May, 2017. Thus in effect the media on 6th and 7th of July, 2017 would be shredding Karnan’s credibility to smithereens; while Karnan’s view point would stay censored. So the stage is being set to ensure that there is no sympathy for Justice Karnan whatsoever when his case is taken up hopefully on 7 July, 2017 in the Supreme Court.
Only a high level independent enquiry can reveal the truth. To get to the bottom of it, an independent agency would have to get hold of all the personal computers, hard disks etc. of all the seven judges; seal these and send them for forensic examination. All the emails exchanged on the issue between the judges would need to be examined. The effort should be to ascertain when each of the seven judges affixed their signatures on the judgements (as there are more than one judgements). The individual seven judges should be subjected to thorough interrogation to arrive at the truth.
Let us beware that the judicial tyranny and dictatorship are as bad as any oppressive regime.
Dr. P.S. Sahni is a member of PIL Watch Group. Email: email@example.com