Ex-CJI assets under govt scanner

Ex-CJI assets under govt scanner

Ex-CJI assets under govt scanner

According to sources, the ministry has “forwarded”  to the CBDT documents furnished by “some senior la­wyers” alleging “undervaluing” and “under-declaration” of the disclosed assets. The CBDT, incidentally, functions under the Union Finance Ministry.

Sources said the Home Ministry had sent documents to the CBDT after a “representation” was made to the ministry.  After refusing to reveal details about his Income Tax (I-T) returns, Balakrishnan, the incumbent Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), had disclosed that he had not added any asset in his balance sheet since 2009.

In a reply furnished under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Chairman’s secretariat maintained that there had not been any change in the total number of  assets possessed by Justice Balakrishnan and his wife in 2010.

“In respect of movable or immovable property, during the year 2009, while Justice Balakrishnan was Chief Justice of India, he had declared his assets. The declaration of assets made by him in 2009 as CJI, stands for the year 2010 also. There is no addition or change in the position stated therein,” the document said.

This information was supplied to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal on May 25. He had sought complete details of income and wealth of the NHRC chief from the period of his appointment as Chief Justice of India till date. With regard to Justice Balakrishnan’s salary on assumption of charge as Chairman NHRC since June, 2010, it was revealed that he drew Rs 50,000 per month as fixed pay.

The information posted on Supreme Court’s website by Justice Balakrishnan during his tenure as CJI had revealed that he owned a house built in 6.07 acre land, residential flat in Ernakulam (Rs 5.75 lakh), one plot in Faridabad (Rs 4.5 lakh) and another in Ernakulam district, besides having a family property (Rs 3.5 lakh).

His wife Nirmala also possessed a plot. He had no investment in shares or had any fixed deposit, as per the information. Justice Balakrishnan owned a santro car of 2000 model.     

Earlier, the NHRC Chairm­an had opposed divulging his I-T returns contending that it was purely “personal in nature” and publishing it would be an “invasion to the personal liberty” of the person who was exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(J) of the RTI Act, 2005.

A public interest litigation has already been filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the CBI for a probe into alleged amassing of wealth disproportionate to the incomes by Justice Balakrishnan and his relatives during his tenure—from January 14, 2007 to May 12, 2010—as CJI.

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