‘This is the only way you can redeem your reputation'

Former Member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Sudarshan Agarwal has appealed to NHRC chairman K.G. Balakrishnan to resign and face an enquiry.

Mr. Agarwal, who is also a former Governor of Uttarakhand and Sikkim, in a letter written to Justice Balakrishnan on December 29, 2010, said: “It is with deep pain and anguish — nay, with a deep sense of shock — that I read in the national dailies a news item about your son-in-law's assets growing over 120 times in a short span of four years — ironically during the period you served as Chief Justice of India.”

He said: “Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, who is a role model for probity in public life, has appealed to the President of India to politely advise you to resign as chairman of the NHRC and offer yourself for an inquiry to be conducted by a panel of three eminent judges. This is the only way you can redeem your reputation. The litigant public would take this news with a sense of shock.”

Mr. Agarwal said the rumours afloat in the corridors of the Supreme Court and elsewhere were indeed disturbing.

“Corruption to my mind is a serious violation of human rights, and surely the chairman of the NHRC must not be perceived to be a violator of human rights. It is therefore necessary to clear your name,” he said in the letter to Justice Balakrishnan.

Mr. Agarwal said: “I have served with three former Chief Justices of India, all of whom have brought added glory, dignity and respect to the highest judicial office. One of them is the late Justice M. Hidayatullah, who served as Vice-President of India when I served as Secretary-General of the Rajya Sabha. The other two were Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah and Justice J.S. Verma, both of whom served as chairman of NHRC while I served as a Member of the Commission.

“All three were role models of probity in public life apart from their exceptional erudition. If people lose faith in the judiciary, it will be a sad day for the country and a big blow to our democratic polity.”

He said: “I am a strong votary of probity in public life. When you were Chief Justice of India, I had written to you expressing my concern about retired Supreme Court Judges engaging in arbitration cases while holding office as chairman of various commissions, as also appearing in foreign courts on behalf of private parties. I did not receive any reply even though two of your predecessors did write back to me agreeing with what I said, but they too did not take any steps to stem this unhealthy practice.

“I would earnestly appeal to you to consider resigning from your present office and offer to face an inquiry to clear your name from any whiff of wrongdoing. This will restore your credibility and also strengthen public confidence in the institution of judiciary — the bulwark of democracy.”

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