SC tells government to decide on Balakrishnan case (Lead)

May 10th, 2012 - 11:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday asked the government to take a decision on a representation seeking a presidential reference on allegations of misconduct against NHRC chairman K.G. Balakrishnan when he was the chief justice of India.

An apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice J.S. Khehar 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” of April 4, 2011 by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability & Judicial Reforms (CJAR), a group of lawyers, to the president.

Pronouncing the judgement, Justice Khehar said if the government found that the allegation against the former chief justice of India was unworthy of being proceeded against then it would inform the petitioner.

“If the allegations…are found to be unworthy of any further action, the petitioner shall be informed accordingly,” the judgment said.

The court said if the government decided in favour of the representation of April 4, 2011, then it would proceed into the matter as mandated under Section 5(2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 that deals with removal of members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“Alternatively, the president of India, 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,” the judgment said.

Going into the allegations made by the CJAR in their representation to the president and the prime minister, the court in its judgment said: “We have given our thoughtful consideration to the solitary prayer made in the instant writ petition.”

“It is not possible for us to accept the prayer made at the hands of the petitioner, for the simple reason that the first step contemplated under Section 5(2) of the 1993 Act is the satisfaction of the president of India,” the court said.

The court said: “It is only upon the satisfaction of the president, that a reference can be made to the Supreme Court for holding an enquiry.”

Referring to an earlier occasion when it had to deal with a similar controversy, the court said that it had directed the petitioner to approach the competent authority under Section 5(2) of the 1993 Act.

The judgment noted that the pleadings in the petition “do not reveal, whether or not any deliberations have been conducted either by the president of India or by the council of ministers in response” to CJAR representation of April 4, 2011 and nor was there any information on its outcome.

The CJAR in its representation to the president and the prime minister made five allegations against Balakrishnan.

These allegations included owning benami properties in the names of his daughters, sons-in-law and brother and getting allotted benami properties from chief minister of Tamil Nadu in the name of his former aide M. Kannabiran.

The other three allegations against Balakrishnan included approving evasive and false replies to an application under the right to information relating to declaration of assets by judges of this court, resisting attempts to stop the elevation of Justice P.D. Dinakaran as judge of the apex court despite serious allegations of land-grab and encroachment and possessing assets beyond his known sources of income when he was in the Supreme Court from 2007 to 2010.

The CJAR alleged that Balakrishnan also suppressed a letter written by a judge of the Madras High Court alleging that a former union minister tried to interfere in his judicial functioning.

The Supreme Court had Monday reserved its order on the petition.

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