SC reserves order on probe against former CJI Balakrishnan



New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a plea for its direction to the Centre to take action against NHRC Chairman and former CJI KG Balakrishnan for his alleged misconduct during his tenure as apex court judge.

A bench of justices BS Chauhan and JS Khehar reserved its verdict on the petition which also seeks its direction to government to make a Presidential reference to the apex court for removal of former Chief Justice of India Balakrishanan's removal as the chairman of National Human Rights Commission.

The court was hearing a PIL by civil society Common Cause, which had alleged ex-CJI and his relative amassed wealth far exceeding their legal income during Balakrishnan's tenure as an apex court's judge.

Justice Balakrishnan had been elevated as a Supreme Court judge in June 2000 and was appointed the Chief Justice of India on January 14, 2007. He retired on May 12, 2010 after which he was appointed NHRC chairman.

The NGO has sought direction to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for making a reference to the apex court under the Human Rights Act to look into the allegations of "misbehaviour" against Justice Balakrishnan.

"Despite the fact that there is overwhelming evidence indicating that the respondent no 3 (Balakrishnan) has been guilty of several acts of grave misbehaviour, the government has not taken any step for his removal from the NHRC," the NGO cousnel Prashant Bhushan had submitted to the court.

A provision under the Human Rights Act says the NHRC chairperson or its members cannot be removed from their offices unless the President of India orders it on the ground of proved misbehaviour, ascertained by the Supreme Court after an enquiry on President's reference for the probe.

Common Cause, in its petition, has annexed media reports as documents to buttress its allegations that 'benami' properties were acquired by Balakrishnan's kin during his tenure in the Supreme Court.

In the last hearing on March 12, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it is probing into the allegations that Balakrishnan and his relatives had amassed disproportionate assets during his tenure as judge and submitted a probe status report to it in a sealed envelop.

The court after going through the report asked the government to tell it as to what further action it intended to take on allegations against former CJI and granted three weeks to apprise it of its intended actions.

PTI