The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to direct the Centre to initiate proceedings for removing former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan from the post of NHRC chairman for alleged misconduct during his tenure in the top court.
"It is not possible for us to accept the prayer made at the hands of the petitioner, for the simple reason that the first step contemplated under Section 5(2) of the 1993 Act is the satisfaction of the President of India. It is only upon the satisfaction of the President that a reference can be made to the Supreme Court for holding an inquiry," a bench of Justice BS Chauhan and Justice JS Khehar said.
The bench left it to the competent authority in the government to look into allegations levelled against the former CJI by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms in its April 4, 2011, letter to the President. If there was any truth in the allegations, it was for the President to make a reference to the SC, it said. For this, the President would act on the advice of the council of ministers.
The court's order came on a PIL by Common Cause, an NGO, seeking a directive to the government, asking it to make a presidential reference in this regard. According to the NGO, the ex-CJI and his relatives had amassed wealth exceeding the NHRC chairman's legal income during his tenure as SC judge. It had sought a direction to the Ministry of Home Affairs for making a reference to the SC for a probe under the Human Rights Act.
Justice Balakrishnan was appointed as the CJI on January 14, 2007. He was appointed as NHRC chairman on May 12, 2010, subsequent to his retirement.