It was a D-Day in the history of Indian Judiciary. When a Dalit was ushered in as the Chief Justice of India, for the first time not only the Dalits but the entire nation was elated. The name K.G.Balakrishnan became a byword for independent justice in the annals of Indian Judicial history. In the beginning there was no doubt about the integrity and dignity of this gentleman. V.R.Krishna Iyer, the renowned Justice of Supreme Court even commented that with the enthronement of K.G.Balakrishnan as the Chief Justice of India ‘we have entered the K.G.Balakrishnan era' in the history of Indian judiciary. The fact that Justice K.G.Balakrishnan is a Dalit enthralled all across the nation. From the very outset he gave interviews to many media personalities who sought his viewpoints on various judicial matters and he with his head held high answered each question and carved a niche for himself. Some of his comments though attracted both constructive criticism and scathing ones but all in an healthy conducive atmosphere. Thus the name K.G.Balakrishnan turned out to be the pride of our nation.
But as the days went by murmurings from legal hierarchy had begun to mount and a few of his opinions were being taken strong exception to even by his juniors. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate S.C.Agarwal before the Delhi High Court praying for the disclosure of assets by Supreme Court judges was not to the taste of a few of the latter category including the then Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan. A few junior judges, eminent are they, voluntarily came out to disclose their assets online wrote lengthy articles in National newspapers like Indian Express, Justice D.V.Shailendra Kumar was one among them and he was of the opinion that each judge irrespective of those belonging to Supreme Court, High Court and other courts are bound to disclose their assets on the web for public's knowledge as also it would ensure transparency in Judiciary. The Delhi High Court passed a verdict directing the Supreme Court judges to disclose their assets, instead the Supreme Court under Justice Balakrishnan didn't relent instead chose to file an appeal before the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court. The reluctance on the part of Justice Balakrishnan came in for scathing criticism and his hesitation cast clouds of suspicion over his integrity and dignity as the Chief Justice of the nation.
Another change, a recent one is related to Justice Reghupathy, who was reportedly approached by an advocate of Madras High Court on behalf of A.Raja with temptations not to proceed against the latter in a case but was rejected by Justice Reghupathy. Instead the Honourable Justice made it public that a Minister had approached him through a third party and that he promptly reported the matter to the High Court Chief Justice G.K Gokhale under copy to the then Chief Justice of India K.G.Balakrishnan. Justice Gokhale, now a Supreme Court Judge in turn reported the matter to Justice K.G.Balakrishnan, but Justice Balakrishnan vehemently objected to the charge that he was in receipt of that letter written by Justice Gokhale. Gokhale in turn has stuck to his position that justice Balakrishnan was in receipt of the copy. These charges too cast a serious suspicion over the integrity of Justice Balakrishnan.
Soon after his retirement Justice Balakrishnan was appointed Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). National Human RIGHTS Commission is a prestigious institution and it is a must that the gentleman who heads it must be of untainted reputation. But reports pouring in on a daily basis over the character of its Chairman is something finger-pointing his status which is open to question and widely talked about.
One of the worst charges which has spilled into the public domain is totally shocking. That his son-in-law and Congress leader P.V.Sreenijin has amassed money to the tune of 7 crores – a heavy chunk of which is spent on purchasing real-estate properties in the two districts of Ernakulam and Thrissur and building bungalows. Malayalam newspapers are celebrating the news by publishing the massive piling up of money by Justice Balakrishnan's son-in-law allegedly misusing the name of his father-in-law while he was at the helm of Supreme Court. Now a hullaballoo is being raised by various quarters to prevail upon enquiring about Justice Balakrishnan's assets as of now.
Once upon a time, I mean, when Justice K.G.Balakrishnan got enthroned as the Chief Justice of India his name was synonymous with all the good sides of justice and gradually the very name Justice K.G.Balakrishnan has come to be synonymous with all the ugly sides of his personality, if all what we listen to are truth nothing but the truth. If at all there are elements of truth in the allegations it is high-time Justice Balakrishnan resigned from his post of Chairman of National Human Rights Commission. Those at the higher echelons of power need look into the matter and take appropriate action they deem fit. The mute question is that who is left to take appropriate action against Justice Balakrishnan.