Supreme Court asks government about action taken against ex-CJI Balakrishnan

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The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to brief it on whether it has conducted any inquiry on allegation against ex-Chief Justice of India and NHRC chief K G Balakrishnan of amassing assets disproportionate to his income...

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to brief it on whether it has conducted any inquiry on allegation against ex-Chief Justice of India and NHRC chief K G Balakrishnan of amassing assets disproportionate to his income.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia directed the government to respond within a month on action taken by it or intended to be taken on the allegation that the former CJI amassed properties worth of Rs 40 crore in his relatives names between 2004 to 2009.

"We want to know what was done on the representation (before the government against ex-CJI) and what government intends to do," the bench said when it was pointed out that representation to the government was made ten months back but no action had been taken on it so far.

The bench asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati to appraise it on the issue within a month.

Vahanvati assured the court that he will go through the petition and will write to all government authorities concerned.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause seeking directions to the government to conduct probe against the former CJI for allegedly amassing disproportionate assets.

Justice Balakrishnan was elevated as a Supreme Court judge on June 2000 and was appointed 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 issuance of 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 petition, filed through lawyer Prashant Bhushan, said.

A provision under the Human Rights Act says that the Chairperson or other member of NHRC "shall be removed from his office by the order of the President of India on the ground of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court, on a reference being made to it by the President, has on inquiry reported that the Chairperson or such member, on any such ground, be removed."

The NGO, in the petition, has annexed media reports as documents to buttress its allegations that 'benami' properties were acquired by kith and kin of Balakrishnan during his tenure in the Supreme Court.