Defending his continuance as chairperson of the NHRC, the government has informed the Supreme Court that the income-tax inquiry against former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and members of his family had failed to produce any incriminating evidence to link their monetary transactions to cases pending in courts.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in its affidavit before a bench led by Justice B S Chauhan, has pointed out that a comprehensive inquiry into the assets, as well as professional receipts, by the former CJI and his kin had given them a clean chit.
The MHA said that it had referred the matter to the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue and Central Board of Direct Taxes, which gave a supplementary status note dated April 18, 2012 on income-tax investigations in the wake of allegations that Balakrishnan had amassed assets disproportionate to his income.
"In the said note, it was mentioned that on the basis of evidence collected during the course of inquiries, it could not be established that the properties were held benami on behalf of Respondent No. 2 (Balakrishnan). Despite there being no allegations regarding professional receipts, they were nevertheless examined and it was found that there was no material to link such payments to any cases pending in the concerned courts," the affidavit says.
The government also drew a distinction between Balakrishnan and Justice Soumitra Sen — the first judge to be impeached by the Rajya Sabha — defending the former against the clamour to remove him as NHRC chairman.
Responding to a PIL by NGO Common Cause, the MHA said that the allegations against Justice Sen pertained to a period when he was an advocate, and the misconduct had continued while he was a judge. "The case at hand cannot be compared to that of Justice Sen as the Respondent No. 2 (Balakrishnan) is not holding a judicial office," it said.