Govt Rejects Plea for Prez Reference Against Balakrishnan

New Delhi
Govt Rejects Plea for Prez Reference Against Balakrishnan
The Centre has turned down an NGO's plea for a Presidential Reference for removal of National Human Rights Commission chairperson K G Balakrishnan over allegations of misconduct during his tenure as Chief Justice and judge of the Supreme Court.

The government said Presidential Reference against him cannot be recommended for his "alleged instances of misbehaviour" during his stint at the apex court.

"His conduct as CJI does not appear to be a relevant ground for making a Presidential Reference to the Supreme Court under Section 5(2) of Protection of Human Rights Act in respect of his continuation in his present tenure as the Chairperson of NHRC," the Home Ministry has said in a letter to an NGO Common Cause who had filed a complaint against Balakrishnan.

The NGO had alleged that the ex-CJI and his relatives amassed wealth far exceeding their legal income during Balakrishnan's tenure as an apex court judge, a charge rubbished by him.

The Home Ministry said Balakrishnan's role as NHRC Chairman cannot be said to be an elongation of his judicial functions at apex court. It said that all the documents pertaining to the former CJI has been sent to the Law Ministry for appropriate action.

The letter written by Deputy Secretary P K Ahuja said, "The functions of NHRC include to inquire, intervene, review the violations of human rights and to study and spread human rights literacy among various sections of society. These functions of the Commission cannot be said to be an elongation of the judicial functions which Balakrishnan discharged in the Supreme Court as Chief Justice of India."

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 Centre has written to the NGO in compliance with Supreme Court's direction on May 10.

Refusing to pass any order directing the government to recommend Presidential Reference, the apex court had said that if there is any truth in the allegations, then it is for the President to make a reference to the Supreme Court, on the advice of Council of Ministers, for inquiry against the former CJI.

NHRC Chairperson can be removed from his office by order of the President after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the President, makes such a recommendation.
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