Apex court to hold detailed hearing against NHRC chief

The Supreme Court on Thursday acknowledged that the PIL seeking removal National Human Resource Commission (NHRC) chairperson former Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan on the ground of “misconduct” raised “serious” issues and required detailed hearing.

A bench of Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde said that the court would like to have a full-fledged hearing to know the views of all the parties before taking a stand on the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause.

“We are working in a dual capacity. Our problem is to also legally examine whether the inquiry officer can ask the delinquent to their jurisdiction. It is a serious issue and so we want to first read everything well,” the bench said.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, asserted that a reference should have been made by the government to the Supreme Court for conducting an inquiry against Justice Balakrishnan for instances of “misbehaviour” (misconduct).

He described the government’s contention on the issue was “patently absurd”. The government took the stand that no action could be initiated under NHRC Act against Justice Balakrishnan for his alleged misconduct during his tenure as the CJI. Bhushan pointed out that only the former CJI could become the NHRC chairman.

The bench, on its part, observed that there were diverse views of the apex court as to if an inquiry could ordered under the NHRC Act to look into the alleged “misbehaviour” of a CJI. “If we go by the majority view in Justice Ramaswami's case, we have no option but to say that it (NHRC chairperson’s post) is not an elongation of the judicial office of the CJI.

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