SC seeks AG’s aid on plea for probe into former CJI’s kin

New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to assist it in the hearing of a plea by NGO Common Cause seeking CBI probe into the assets of relatives including son-in-laws of the former chief justice of India K.G.Balakrishnan.

A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant sought the assistance of Rohatgi as counsel for the NGO Prashant Bhushan told the court that income tax department has found that the 21 assets owned by the kin of the former Chief Justice were disproportionate to their known sources of income.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter on November 17.

Taking the court through the news report which has quoted the IT department source saying that as far as Balakrishnan was concerned he can’t say anything but as his relatives – two sons-in-law and brother – were concerned, the tax authorities have found unaccounted money in their acquiring of assets.

The court observed that this is a matter relating to income tax and tax authorities could ask the relatives of the former CJI to explain from where did they get the money to acquire asserts possessed by them.

Pointing out that there was judges protection act, the court said that if a person earns Rs. 10,000 per month and filhes an income tax return of Rs.2 lakh and then goes on to buy property having circle rate of over Rs.1 crore, then it is the duty of the income tax authorities to find out the source of income.

Bhushan told the court that if the relatives of a public servant acquire assets disproportionate to their known sources of income and they are unable to explain the sources of getting them, then the question arises whether they have acquired these assets with the alleged illicit money of the public servant.

He said that there is an impression that judges have ceased to be accountable and you can’t do anything against them. He said that courts will have to act to reverse this thinking and restore the confidence of the people in judiciary.

“Something can still be done. Charge of disproportionate assets is a charge under Prevention of Corruption Act Aand the court may direction the registration of preliminery enquiry” into the kith and kin of former CJI acquiring 21 properties which were beyond their known sources of income, he said.

Bhushan’s argument came in the course of the hearing of 2013 petition by the NGO seeking the seeking the removal of Justice Balakrishnan as head of the National Human Rights Commission for his alleged acts of misbehaviour during his tenure as the CJI. He said the plea had become infructuous as Justice Balakrishnan has already demitted the office as the head of national rights body on the completion of his term.

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