17 April, 2021

Prickly Pride And A Suicide

The Dalit identity was one thing the judge played to his convenience. In the end, it proved disastrous.

Photograph by PTI
Prickly Pride And A Suicide

Ever since its formation on the day the country became a republic in 1950, Tamil Nadu has earned two dishonourable distinctions from its rulers. First was the dismissal of a chief minister in a case of corruption: M. Karunanidhi, in early 1976. Second was the imprisonment of a serving CM for corruption: J. Jayalalitha, in 2014. Recently, a native of this southern state added a third to the pioneering list when he, serving as a Calcutta High Court judge, was sentenced to imprisonment. The Supreme Court has sent quarrelsome Justice C.S. Karnan to jail for six months on charges of contempt.

Much like his namesake in the Maha­bharata, this 59-year-old jurist from coastal Cuddalore considered himself a victim of circumstances, notes a retired HC judge. “If Vyasa’s Karnan could never live down being the son of a charioteer, this man could not shake off his Dalit identity. All the same, much of his tragedy was self-infli­cted,” he adds.

The jurist, born to a schoolteacher in Karn­atham village of Virudhachalam taluk, wore...

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