Allegations against ex-CJI Balakrishnan being probed: SC told

Allegations against ex-CJI Balakrishnan being probed: SC told

The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it is probing into the allegations that former Chief Justice of India K G 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.

Appearing before a bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justice Swatanter Kumar, Attorney General G E Vahanvati said the Income Tax Department is currently engaged in assessing the properties of Balakrishnan's two son-in-laws and brother.

The bench after going through the report asked the government to tell it as to what further action it intended to take on allegations against former CJI.

The bench granted three weeks to apprise it of the future course of action, to be taken by the government on the issue.

The court's direction came during hearing of a Public Interest Litigation filed by civil society Common Cause, which alleged that ex-CJI and his relative amassed wealth far exceeding their legal income during Balakrishnan's tenure as an apex court's judge.

The PIL sought apex court's direction to the government to take proper action against the ex-XJI, who is presently the chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Justice Balakrishnan had been elevated as a Supreme Court judge in June 2000 and was appointed the Chief Justice of India on January 14, 2007. He retired on May 12, 2010 after which he was appointed NHRC chairman.

The NGO has sought direction to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for making a reference to the apex court under the Human Rights Act to look into the allegations of "misbehaviour" against Justice Balakrishnan.

"Despite the fact that there is overwhelming evidence indicating that the respondent no 3 (Balakrishnan) has been guilty of several acts of grave misbehaviour, the government has not taken any step for his removal from the NHRC," said the petition, filed through lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

A provision under the Human Rights Act says the NHRC Chairperson or its other members "shall be removed from his office by the order of the President of India on the ground of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court, on a reference being made to it by the President, has on inquiry reported that the Chairperson or such member, on any such ground, be removed."

Common Cause, in its petition, has annexed media reports as documents to buttress its allegations that 'benami' properties were acquired by kith and kin of Balakrishnan during his tenure in the Supreme Court.

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