Petition seeks presidential reference to remove him as NHRC chief
The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a plea against the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman and former Chief Justice of India (CJI), K.G. Balakrishnan, for his alleged misconduct during his tenure as a judge of the apex court.
A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and J.S. Khehar reserved its verdict on the petition that sought a direction to the government to make a presidential reference to the apex court for Justice Balakrishnan's removal as NHRC chairman.
The petition was filed by civil society association Common Cause. It alleged that Justice Balakrishnan and his relative amassed wealth far exceeding their legal income during his tenure as an apex court judge.
Justice Balakrishnan was elevated as a Supreme Court judge in June 2000 and appointed CJI on January 14, 2007. He retired on May 12, 2010.
Common Cause has sought a direction to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to make a reference to the apex court under the Human Rights Act to look into the allegations of “misbehaviour” on the part of Justice Balakrishnan.
“Despite the fact that there is overwhelming evidence indicating that the respondent no. 3 [Justice Balakrishnan] has been guilty of several acts of grave misbehaviour, the government has not taken any step for his removal from the NHRC,” NGO counsel 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 such dismissal on the grounds 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' property were acquired by Justice Balakrishnan's kin during his tenure in the Supreme Court.
In the last hearing on March 12, the Centre told the Supreme Court that it was probing the allegations that Justice 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 the former CJI and granted three weeks to appraise it of its intended actions.