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Jailing a Judge: On Justice Karnan Arrest

Justice Karnan’s imprisonment should have been avoided to keep the judiciary’s dignity

The imprisonment of Justice C.S. Karnan, who recently retired as a judge of the Calcutta High Court, for contempt is the culmination of a series of unfortunate and unpleasant developments. It was a step that was best avoided in the interest of maintaining the dignity of the judiciary. It is indeed true that Justice Karnan’s offences in making wild and totally unsubstantiated allegations against a number of fellow judges, and his tactics of intimidation against Chief Justices who tried over the years to discipline him, were shocking and completely unacceptable. However, a Supreme Court that allowed him to enter the hallowed portals of the higher judiciary would have done better had it adopted a more pragmatic approach. Mr. Karnan was due to retire and it would have been sufficient if he was allowed to do so under a dark cloud of dishonour, after spending his last days in office stripped of judicial work. It is an extraordinarily low moment for the institution that a man who the Supreme Court felt needed his mental health evaluated should be sentenced for contempt of court, arrested and sent to jail. As for alternatives to imprisonment, recommending his impeachment to Parliament was a possibility the Supreme Court may have also done well to consider. There is no defence of Justice Karnan’s disdainful refusal to answer the contempt charge or going into hiding to avoid arrest for nearly seven weeks - actions that only served to reinforce his waywardness and disregard for the law.

It is also time for some introspection within the judiciary on the manner in which judges are chosen. That someone as ill-suited to judicial office as Justice Karnan entered the superior judiciary exposes the inadequacies of the collegium system. The absence of a mechanism to discipline recalcitrant judges is another glaring lacuna in the existing system. With the Constitution prescribing impeachment by Parliament, a long-winded and cumbersome process, as the sole means to remove a judge, Chief Justices of the High Courts are at their wits’ end when it comes to dealing with refractory judges who are not amenable to any discipline or capable of self-restraint. Non-allotment of judicial work and transfer to another High Court are measures available for the purpose, but in Mr. Karnan’s case these hardly had any chastening effect. Instead, he continued to make the self-serving claim that he was being victimised because he was a Dalit. He now has the option of moving the court to seek suspension of his sentence or appealing to the President for its remission. No one would really grudge Mr. Karnan an opportunity to secure his liberty, but one can only hope that in future he does not use his time in prison to play to the gallery and portray himself as a martyr in the cause of fighting corruption in the judiciary.

Learn Vocabulary from Newspaper Articles (THE HINDU)

1) Waywardness ( ज़िद) (Noun):  Way-ward-ness 
Meaning - – turned or turning away from what is right or proper
Synonyms -  stubbornness, wilfulness, wildness.
Antonyms - Adherence , submission , agreeability 
Example - She was a bright and amusing child, and the waywardness she had once shown was now under control.

2)Lacuna (कमी)  (noun):  lu-kyoo-na
Meaning -an unfilled space
Synonyms a gap/empty space; missing part of something.
Antonyms - Complete , plethora , surplus , opulence
Example - The story’s plot was missing, creating a lacuna in the middle of the text.

3)Chasten (दंड देना) (verb):  chey-sun
Meaning - to punish or reprimand in order to correct
Synonyms -  subdue, humble, flatten.
Antonyms - Honor , laud , cheer , encourage , uplift
Example - When I was a child, my parents would chasten me by taking all of my toys.

4) Cumbersome( बोझिल ,उलझा हुआ) (adjective): kum-ber-sum
Meaning - large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry or use , difficult to manage
Synonyms - complicated, complex; awkward/hard to deal with.
Antonyms - effortless , simple , comfy , lightweight
Example -  The cumbersome box was too big for the shopping cart .

5) Unsubstantiated  (निराधार ,अपुष्ट, असमर्थित)  (adjective):- un-sub-stan-shee-ey-tid
Meaning - not supported or proven by evidence.
Synonyms - unconfirmed, unsupported, uncorroborated.
Antonyms- confirmed , well-founded ,solid , valid
Example -All his allegations against the secretary were unsubstantiated.

6) Pragmatic (व्यावहारिक )(adjective) :  prag-mat-ik
Meaning - concentrating on practical results and facts instead of speculation and opinion
Synonyms -empirical, realistic/actual, practical.
Antonyms - Impractical , unrealistic , naive , fanciful
Example - While many parents rely on theory when governing their children, I prefer a more pragmatic approach.

7) Refractory  (जिद्दी ,अड़ियल) (adjective):  ri-frak-ter-ee
Meaning - not responsive or difficult to manage
Synonyms -  obstinate, stubborn, contrary, recalcitrant.
Antonyms - Obedient , amenable , docile
Example - Most teenagers go through a refractory phase where they don’t want to listen to authority figures.

8) Remission (निलंबन ,रद्द करना)  (noun)  : ri-mish-un
Meaning - the cancellation of a debt, charge, or penalty.
Synonyms -  cancellation, setting aside, suspension, revocation.
Antonyms - Accusation
Example -He was given three months' remission for good behaviour.

9) Glaring ( स्पष्ट )(adjective):  glair-ing
Meaning - very clear and  noticable , emitting or reflecting light readily or in large amounts
Synonyms - obvious, blatant, flagrant.
Antonyms - Obscure , dark , dull , dim
Example - No one missed the glaring spelling error in the title.

10) Culmination (परिणति )(noun) :cul-min-ney-shun
Meaning :the highest or climactic point of something, especially as attained after a long time.
Synonyms : climax, peak, pinnacle.
Antonyms : Base , beginning , bottom , nadir
Example - Winning first prize was the culmination of years of practice and hard work.

11) Recalcitrant  (आज्ञा न माननेवाला) (adjective) : ri-kal-si-trunt
Meaning - having an obstinately uncooperative attitude towards authority or discipline.
Synonyms - uncooperative, non-compliant, confrontational.
Antonyms -   compliant , submissive , obedient , deferential
Example - Despite being offered treats by his parents, the little boy was still recalcitrant about doing his homework.

12) Tutelage  (Noun)  -  संरक्षण      
Meaning - protection of or authority over someone or something
Synonyms - guardianship, aegis, auspices, care
Antonyms -  ignorance, negligence, indifference
Example (English) - Arjun Kapoor is eager to work under the tutelage and vision of Dibakar Banerjee
Example (Hindi) - अर्जुन कपूर दिबाकर बैनर्जी के संरक्षण और दृष्टीकोण के तहत काम करने के लिए उत्सुक हैं। 

Now considering the article above as a Reading Comprehension , try to answer the following questions-
  • According to the author , what is need to be introspect in judiciary sysem ?
  • What could be the alternatives to the imprisonment of Justice C.S. Karnan according to the author ?
Now it's time to check your vocabulary . We have given below some words from the same article . Try to make sentences with these words in the comment section which will be reviewed by us.
  • Wits
  • Grudge
  • Disdainful
  • hallowed
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