New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said the allegations against former CJI K.G. Balakrishnan were a serious matter and it wanted to decide the issue even as the central government argued that alleged misbehaviour could not be a basis for seeking his removal as NHRC chief.
Directing the listing of the matter for Oct 30, a bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice S.A. Bobde said it would involve a detailed hearing and "we want to decide the issue".
Mocking the government stand, counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, dismissed the government stand as "laughable" and said that it was an "absurd view".
Common Cause is seeking the removal of Justice Balakrishnan as the head of the National Human Rights Commission on the grounds of alleged misbehaviour during his tenure as the Chief Justice of India.
Appearing for the government, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran told the court that the role of Justice Balakrishnan as chief of the apex human rights panel was not the same as that of the Chief Justice of India.
He said that both were two different institutions and NHRC could not be construed as a continuation of the apex court.
Countering the submission by Parasaran, Bhushan said that at least one act of misbehaviour was attributable to Justice Balakrishnan as the head of the human rights body.
Bhushan told the court that as NHRC head, Justice Balakrishnan, in response to a RTI application, suppressed a letter written by Madras High Court judge H.L.Gokhale alleging that then union minister A. Raja tried to interfere in his judicial function and later lied to the press that he had not received any such letter implicating any minister.
He said that it was this response by Justice Balakrishnan that forced Justice Gokhale to issue a press release making public the letter which he had written to Balakrishnan, pointing to the phone call by Raja in an attempt to interfere in the court proceedings.
Common Cause, in its PIL, has alleged that during the tenure of Balakrishnan in the apex court, his close relatives including his daughters and sons-in-laws acquired assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. It also alleged that proxy properties were purchased in the name of his former aide M. Kannabiran.
The PIL said that Justice Balakrishnan approved "evasive and false replies given by CPIO, Supreme Court in response to the RTI application filed by Sh. Subhash Chandra Agarwal regarding declaration of assets by judges...."