While a Supreme Court Bench observed last week that the PIL seeking the removal of former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan as chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had raised serious issues and hence required a detailed assessment,Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati has told the government that the allegations pertain to his tenure as CJI and cannot be considered for making a reference for his removal from the NHRC.
In a 13-page opinion to the government sent some days back,Vahanvati has categorically said that only his conduct as chairman,NHRC,would be relevant in this regard.
Last week,even as the Centre informed the court that the Income-Tax inquiry against Balakrishnan and his son-in-law son-in-law had failed to produce any incriminating evidence,the Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde said it wanted to go through all the relevant facts and legal issues before taking a final call on the petition seeking Balakrishnans removal over allegations pertaining to his tenure as CJI.
On April 4,2011,the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR) had submitted a representation to the President,requesting that a reference be made to the Supreme Court,under Section 5(2) of the Human Rights Act,1993,for an inquiry against Balakirshnan. Section 5(2) prescribes the grounds for removal of NHRC chairperson and members on proven misbehaviour or incapacity while in office.
In his opinion,the AG has pointed out that the CBDT,in its supplementary status note of April 18,2012,had given a clean chit to Balakrishnan on the issue of holding benami properties. He has also said that the functions of NHRC chairperson cannot be said to be elongation of SCs judicial functions with the same judicial flavour.
Therefore,allegations pertaining to Justice Balakrishnans tenure as CJI cannot be considered for the purpose of deciding whether a reference should be made to the SC in terms of Section 5(2) of the Act. Only his conduct as chairperson,NHRC would be relevant, he has said.