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Hon’ble Justice K.G. Balakrishnan

balakrishnan

Name of Judge: Justice K.G. Balakrishnan

Post Held at Relevant Time: Chief Justice of India, Chairman NHRC

Current Status: Retired

 

 

Analysis/Comment/Critique:

1) After Justice Balakrishnan retired as CJI in May 2010, he was appointed as the Chairperson of NHRC. In order to initiate process for his removal from NHRC, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) had written to the Prime Minister and the President of India vide letters dated 04.04.2011 enclosing numerous documents showing certain acts of misconduct of Justice Balakrishnan, such as his close relatives acquiring assets disproportionate to their known sources of income during his tenure as a judge, purchasing benami properties in the name of his former aide M. Kannabiran and suppressing a letter written by a High Court judge alleging that former Union Minister A. Raja tried to interfere in his judicial function and later lying to the press that he had not received any such letter implicating any Union Minister.

2) When the UPA Government did not respond to the above letter for more than 8 months then Common Cause filed a Writ Petition being W.P.C. No. 35/2012 before Supreme Court seeking a direction to the government to make a reference under Section 5 (2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 for holding an inquiry against Justice Balakrishnan.

3) On 10th May 2012, Supreme Court disposed of Common Cause writ petition by stating: “…instant writ petition deserves to be disposed of by requesting the competent authority to take a decision on the communication dated 4.4.2011 (addressed by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, to the President of India). If the allegations, in the aforesaid determination, are found to be unworthy of any further action, the Petitioner shall be informed accordingly. Alternatively, the President of India, based on the advice of the Council of Ministers, may proceed with the matter in accordance with the mandate of section 5(2) of the 1993 Act.”

4) When seven months elapsed and the Government did not take any such decision, the Petitioner moved an Application before Supreme Court. On 24.01.2013 when this Application came for hearing the bench concerned of the Supreme Court that it should be placed before the bench which had heard the main writ petition.

5) On 29.01.2013 the UPA Government finally sent a communication to the Petitioner stating the Justice Balakrishnan’s conduct as CJI is not a relevant ground for making a reference for his removal as NHRC Chairperson and thus rejected the reference.

6) Challenging this completely untenable argument of the Government on several grounds, Common Cause filed another writ petition in Supreme Court, being WPC 678 of 2013. In this petition, copies of various sale deeds of the properties acquired by the relatives of Justice Balakrishnan during his tenure as a Supreme Court judge were enclosed. A detailed chart of list of such properties was enclosed at page 144 to 146 of the writ petition.

7) In this petition, Court asked the Central Government to file a reply. However, the petition did not come up for hearing till Justice Balakrishnan demitted office in May 2015 from NHRC after serving a full 5 year term, thus the main prayer in the petition had become infructuous.

8) When the petition came up for hearing, counsel for petitioner Mr. Prashant Bhushan requested the Court that it should at least direct an investigation for disproportionate assets held by Justice Balakrishnan. Supreme Court asked the Attorney General to appear and asked for income-tax department view on the issue.

9) The NDA government strongly opposed initiating any inquiry saying it would set a dangerous precedent. The Government later on gave a chart of the income-tax assessment of the matter. That chart showed that IT Dept had assessed the income of the close family members of Justice Balakrishnan to be several times than their stated income, and thus completely disproportionate to the work they do.

10) When the petitioner tried to argue the matter based on evidence of benami properties and disproportionate assets which had come on record of Supreme Court, the bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra kept on adjourning the matter on several occasions.

11) Finally, the matter was shifted by CJI Dipak Misra to the bench of Justice Arun Mishra who on 12 December 2017 asked the petitioner to withdraw the writ and first approach the concerned authority for investigation, before approaching the court. Thus, the petition was dismissed as withdrawn.

12) New video evidence has surfaced indicating bribery for getting a favourable judgment in mining case belonging to Reddy brothers from the bench headed by Justice Balakrishnan. And just a day prior to his retirement, on 10.05.2010, he gave a judgment allowing Reddy brothers owned OMC to do mining, despite the fact that huge illegalities had come to light and resumption of the mining had been opposed by all authorities. Later on, the next CJI Justice Kapadia stopped mining from all the mines owned/controlled by Reddy brothers including OMC.

Documents supporting the Critique:

Writ petition Common Cause v UOI & Anr. WPC 678 of 2013 (Click – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

Counter Affidavit filed by Union of India (Click)

Income Tax assessment details of the relatives of Justice K.G. Balakrishanan (Retd) (Click)

Justice Balakrishnan’s order dated 10.05.2010, on the eve of his retirement allowing the Reddy brothers owned mining company to resume mining (Click)

Media Stories on the bribery for obtaining favourable order for Reddy mining companies

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mining-case-sriramulu-bribed-sc-judge/article23841724.ece

https://www.newslaundry.com/shorts/karnataka-elections-bjp-congress-sting-sriramulu-bribe

 

Details of individual/organization writing critique

Name: Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms
Address: 6/6 Basement, Jungpura B, Delhi – 110014

Date of update: 14th May 2018