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“There can be no investigation in such cases”- AG Mukul Rohatgi on ex-CJI, KG Balakrishnan

Murali Krishnan

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi today told the Supreme Court that the petition filed by NGO Common Cause against former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan has been rendered infructuous.

More importantly, he submitted that there cannot be a CBI investigation in such cases wherein the allegations pertain to disproportionate assets, as it will set a bad precedent and may well encourage “wild allegations”.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

The court was hearing a petition filed by Common Cause seeking the removal of Justice Balakrishnan from the post of NHRC Chairman, citing disproportionate assets acquired by him through benamis.

The petitioner had also sought an investigation into the same by an independent agency.

Justice Balakrishnan had retired from the NHRC earlier this year, rendering the prayer for his removal infructuous.

However, during the last hearing, the Court had held that it would consider the status of the Income Tax department’s inquiry with regard to the disproportionate assets before going into other issues. The Court had also asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to assist the Bench.

When the matter was taken up today, Rohatgi submitted the matter had become infructuous. He said,

“Income tax assessments were done. There was undervaluation in some cases and enhanced taxes were paid. We cannot have investigation like this in such cases. Everybody will start making wild allegations. It will set a bad precedent.”

Rohatgi also submitted that there was no evidence that the former CJI is holding benami properties. Moreover, he said that the alleged holders of the benamis are lawyers hinting that they are capable of purchasing the properties in question.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who is representing Common Cause in the case, was on his legs in court 4, and his junior sought for an adjournment.

The Attorney General then submitted that he will hand over a report including the IT Assessments and asked the court to post the matter in January next year. Acceding to this request, the matter has been posted to January 19.