Non-government organisation ‘Common Cause’ on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Union government to initiate steps for the removal of Justice K.G. Balakrishnan as chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as per Section 5(2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act for alleged acts of grave misbehaviour.

The petition, filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, said ‘Common Cause’ and Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms had made representations to the Prime Minister and the President on April 4, 2011, along with detailed evidence against Justice Balakrishnan of alleged amassment of benami property and disproportionate assets in the names of his relatives and associates, and several acts of misconduct.

As no action was taken, ‘Common Cause’ filed a writ petition, and this court, on May 10, 2012, passed an order, which said, “We are satisfied that the instant writ petition deserves to be disposed of by requesting the competent authority to take a decision on the communication dated April 4, 2011. If the allegations, in the aforesaid determination, are found to be unworthy of any further action, the petitioner shall be informed accordingly. Alternatively, the President, based on the advice of the Council of Ministers, may proceed with the matter in accordance with the mandate of Section 5(2) of the 1993 Act.”

Spurious argument

In the present petition, ‘Common Cause’ said this direction was not complied with by the government. In its communication dated January 29, 2013, the government decided not to proceed with the mandate of Section 5 (2) of 1993 Act by using a spurious and illegal argument that the allegations pertained to the period before Justice Balakrishnan became the chairperson of the NHRC. It said the government did not respond to the petitioner’s representation dated April 14, 2013 against the said communication.

The petitioner contended that it was not necessary that allegations of misconduct for the removal of a person occupying important public posts must relate to his tenure in that position.

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