Special to Firstpost By VK Shashikumar, THL Mediagrove
Was former Chief Justice of India and current Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Konakuppakatil Gopinathan Balakrishnan, open to “fixing” cases for a consideration?
Two former judges, who knew him closely, suspect this may be the case and have called for a detailed probe into the affairs of the former CJI who has recently come under scrutiny for the wealth amassed by his close relatives, including his daughters and sons-in-law, when he was a judge in the Supreme Court from 2000-10.
One of his accusers is retired Kerala High Court Justice PK Shamsuddin (1986-93), and a Gandhian and humanitarian who served with the former CJI. Justice Shamsuddin says Balakrishnan must be probed for his dubious practices because he (Shamsuddin) was once approached by a Bangalore-based person to act as an intermediary to a fix case in the Supreme Court.
“I was approached by a man in Bangalore. He requested me to facilitate an introduction to Justice Balakrishnan’s son (KG Pradeep) or son-in-law (Puliyanaveettil Vasu Sreenijan) to fix a case in the Supreme Court. I refused and said that I don’t involve myself in such things.”
This shocking revelation by Justice Shamsuddin brings the spotlight back to the corruption allegations swirling around Balakrishnan.
“I am of the view that a detailed and comprehensive inquiry must be initiated against all the allegations against Justice Balakrishnan. I feel he should resign as the NHRC chief and establish that he is innocent. All judges have a moral obligation to ensure that relatives do not misuse their position and use their names in illegal and dubious matters,” Shamsuddin told Firstpost.
Another former retired senior judge, Justice K Sukumaran (1981-91), who served in the Kerala and Maharashtra High Courts, confirms that judges are often approached “by vested interests and attempts made to influence them”.
Sukumaran says that Balakrishnan allowed his late brother KG Bhaskaran to exploit his name and position for personal gain. “I believe Justice Balakrishnan should have been vigilant to ensure that his name or position was not misused by his relatives.”
Sukumaran also feels that Balakrishnan was okay when he was a Kerala High Court judge, but things changed when he went to Delhi as a Supreme Court judge and, subsequently, when he became CJI.
The wealth amassed by the ex-CJI’s kin has been probed by the Kerala police and a CNN-IBN report says that his family “amassed crores between 2004 and 2009,” when he was CJI. Firstpost’s own investigations show that the current value of properties purchased by his daughters and sons-in-law add up to over Rs 35 crore (See details).
Tracing the rise and rise of ex-CJI Balakrishnan from an “average lawyer” who appeared before his court to the highest judicial office in the land, Justice Sukumaran says it is an open secret that Balakrishnan’s career was propelled by former Kerala Chief Minister (late) K Karunakaran. The latter skillfully used the Dalit card to elevate Balakrishnan to the Kerala High Court.
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