Dalit scholars and writers have expressed their concerns over senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s comments against Justice C.S. Karnan, who in 2017 became the first serving judge to be convicted for contempt.
On Friday, Prashant Bhushan who was held guilty of contempt for tweets on Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and the Supreme Court, reiterated his stand and said Justice Karnan, apart from making absurd allegations against his colleagues, had abused his judicial powers to jail top court judges.
In May 2017, Justice Karnan was sentenced to six months of imprisonment by the Supreme Court of India, holding him guilty of contempt of court. He was the first Indian High Court judge to be sent to prison for contempt while in office.
Hours after Justice Karnan was sentenced in May 2017, Bhushan had tweeted: “Glad SC finally nailed Karnan for gross contempt of court. He made reckless charges on judges & then passed ‘absurd’ orders against SC judges.”
Responding to Bhushan’s fresh allegations against Justice C.S. Karnan, Dr. Suraj Yengde, noted scholar of caste and author of the bestseller Caste Matters said Justice Karnan was making a case against caste discrimination and corruption in the judiciary.
“’Absurd allegations’?? He was making a case against caste discrimination and corruption in the judiciary. I thought your gang was fighting against this back in 2011. ‘Abused his judicial office’? I say well utilized his constitutional right,” Yengde said in a tweet.
“Is a Dalit not allowed to be a victim?” Yengde who is co-editor of award winning The Radical in Ambedkar asked Prashant Bhushan.
Earlier, retired judge, Karnan said he was being harassed and victimized by brother judges because he was a Dalit.
Poet and Dalit activist Meena Kandasamy said to Bhushan that it’d be better to stay silent than to again criticize an outspoken victim of caste discrimination
“Justice Karnan saw a lot of things coming, including the nature of the man who sexually abused his employee + the judicial architect of the illegal temple,” Kandasamy said.
Former managing editor of India Today group and author Dilip C Mandal wrote an opinion piece in The Print and said: “Bhushan finds many friends among the ruling elites after the Supreme Court verdict. Not only because he is one of them, but also because he is a man of the system. Justice Karnan is an outsider and it’s natural that he found no friends among the elites and opinion makers.”
“The Supreme Court’s contempt of court ruling against Prashant Bhushan has stirred India’s soul. Liberal anger has poured out. Several judges even spoke in his support. But not too long ago, many of them watched silently when Justice C.S. Karnan was sent to jail for six months for calling out corrupt judges. In fact, some, including Bhushan had welcomed the imprisonment of the outspoken Dalit judge, a first in India’s judicial history,” Mandal further said.
“Without investigation on Justice Karnan’s allegations, how you declared it as absurd?” Bhim Army Delhi state spokesperson and Ambedkarite activist Suraj Kumar Bauddh asked.
Jawaharlal Nehru University research scholar and BAPSA activist Neha Yadav said in a tweet: “Look at his language. And why won’t he speak like this? He is being hailed as a hero not just by the savarnas but by our people too. In life and in death our people are never “heard or believed”. Because of the impunity given to this language, power.”