Key documents against former CJI missing in SC

Key documents against former CJI missing in SC

An NGO, seeking removal of former CJI K G Balakrishnan as the NHRC chairman for his alleged misconduct, today told the Supreme Court that a key document of the Centre on probe into disproportionate assets against him and his kins has gone "missing" from the apex court files.

This was told to a bench of justices B S Chauhan and J S Khehar by advocate Prashant Bhushan, the counsel for civil society Common Cause, which has moved the apex court for removal of former Chief Justice of India Balakrishnan as the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

He pointed out to the bench the sequence of events of the March 12 proceedings during
which Attorney General G E Vahanvati had placed a two-page note on the status of inquiry.

He informed the court that when the matter was heard last before a bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, a status report was filed in a sealed cover.

The bench, however, could not find the report in its file.

Wondering as to how could the report go missing from the court files, Bhushan said Vhanwati himself had handed over the report to the CJI during the last hearing.

"It is strange that the two-page note has disappeared from the court file. I am surprised that the note has disappeared from your file. The Attorney General has also disappeared from your court," he said while targetting AG for not appearing in the case.

Additional Solicitor General Gaurav Banerjee, however, objected to his contention, saying the AG is out of town and he has no idea about the status report.

Bhushan said the AG had orally stated that large payment was allegedly made to the son-in-law of Balakrishan by a law firm for the services he never rendered as an advocate.

He said the AG's note was about the probe probably carried by the income tax department.

Asked by the bench if the probe by the Income Tax department was not sufficient, Bhushan said the investigations can be done by the intelligence bureau.

He said another document about the chart prepared and supplied by the petitioner about 20 properties acquired by Balakrishnan's kin during his tenure in the apex court was also not found in the court's file.

The bench, meanwhile, dismissed advocate M L Sharma's plea for Justice Balakrishanan's removal as NHRC chairman, saying that no notice was issued on his petition and he could seek redressal of his grievances from the government.

In the last hearing on March 12, the Centre had said it is probing into the allegations that Balakrishnan and his relatives amassed disproportionate assets and had submitted the inquiry report of Income Tax department.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati had given the status report to it in a sealed envelop and said the IT department is currently engaged in assessing properties of Balakrishnan's two sons-in-law and brother.

"Real inquiry has been done by the Income Tax Department as it was related to the properties of sons-in-law and brother," Vahanvati had said, adding "the issue involved holding of benami property".

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