INDIA: Judge dodging investigation must quit 

The Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association, in an extraordinary general body meeting held yesterday, resolved to request the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India to undertake an investigation about the charges of corruption alleged against the former Chief Justice of India, Mr. K. G. Balakrishnan and the members of his family. The resolution also calls upon the former judge to resign from his present job as the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) and to face an independent investigation. Out of the estimated 300 lawyers who participated in the debate concerning the resolution, about 275 lawyers voted in favour and 20 lawyers voted against the resolution.

That the resolution, the first of its kind in the legal history of India, is by the ‘home Bar’ of the former judge is significant. The fact that it is from this Bar that Balakrishnan was called upon to serve as a judge at the Kerala High Court, and it is in the same Bar where his relatives who are suspected of corruption are currently practicing adds weight to the decision by the Association. Balakrishnan is yet to publically respond to the resolution.

The resolution reiterates public opinions already expressed by persons from various quarters concerning the issue. Senior politicians including present and past ministers, lawyers, academics, journalists and judges have repeatedly demanded the resignation of the former judge from his present position as the Chairperson of the NHRC. It is not a matter of sheer liberal morality or embarrassment that obligates the former judge to step down from the constitutional office he continues to occupy, despite tenable and thus serious, allegations of corruption. On the contrary, the ouster of the suspected judge from his present office is a legal and practical necessity to undertake an independent investigation into the allegations levelled against him and the members of his family. The Advocate General of Kerala had ordered the judge’s brother, a special prosecutor in the state who is also suspected to be involved in corruption, to go on leave until the investigation in the case is over. It might be worth mentioning here that the accused judge’s sister-in-law, a former judge in the subordinate judiciary and the wife of the prosecutor who is now asked to go on leave, also had lost office in the past after being caught red-handed, twice, accepting bribes. It is alleged that the former Chief Justice, who was at the time a High Court judge intervened in the case misusing his privileges and influence as a judge thereby successfully preventing a criminal case being registered against his sister-in-law.

The allegations of corruption have caused a serious dent upon the already poor image of the country’s judiciary. The continuing impunity enjoyed by the accused judge and his relatives is serious enough an affair to further demoralise not just the judiciary, but the entire legal community in the country and also the general public. Having a judge with seriously suspected credentials at the helm of affairs of a national institution like the NHRC trivialises the mandate of the NHRC. This in many ways augment views expressed by a relatively small number of senior bureaucrats and police officers who are antagonistic to the mandate of the human rights commissions (state and national), that these are institutions created and existing merely to serve the interests of judges once they retire from service, from the High Court or the Supreme Court. Reports and interventions made by the NHRC, as long as Balakrishnan remains as its Chairperson, will face serious challenges as to its truthfulness. The circumstances, no doubt, will certainly affect, if not already, the performance of the Chairperson while discharging his duties. This is an unacceptable scenario.

The resolution passed by the High Court Advocates’ Association casts a binding obligation upon the Government of India to act upon it. It also creates a moral obligation upon similar entities in the country to ensure that the suspected judge does not further damage the already poor public perception about state institutions in India. The integrity of institutions is only good to the extent of trustworthiness of the persons who leads them.

Mr. Balakrishnan’s case is not just about a tainted judge or about the suspected illegal wealth his family might have amassed misusing nothing less than the country’s judiciary. The issues at debate concern the quintessence of the perception of justice in the country. Any act that would help to preserve the last figments of public confidence in the country’s justice institutions must be welcomed during these hours of hardship. In that, Balakrishnan would do a favour to the country and to its people should he resign from the office of the Chairperson of the NHRC and face investigation like any honourable citizen.

The copy of the letter issued to the Secretary of the Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association requesting permission to move the resolution and the copy of the resolution passed by the Association is pasted below for your information.

Date: 12-01-2011
The Secretary,
Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association


We, the undersigned members, propose to move the following resolution for consideration of the general body and to discuss the same. This has been necessitated due to the alarming allegations of corruption brought to light from different quarters against the Former Chief Justice of India, Sri. K. G. Balakrishnan and against his close relatives, who have amassed wealth disproportionate of their known sources of income.

Mr. Saied Alikutty
… and 107 other lawyers


Resolution as passed by the Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association on 18-01-2011


“We, the members of the Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association, express our deep concern shock and anguish over the alarming allegations of corruption brought out from different sources against Sri. K. G. Balakrishnan, the Former Chief Justice of India and his close relatives, who have allegedly amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. We appeal to the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India to order a detailed probe into the allegations by an independent investigating agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation and further probe by the Directorate of Enforcement and the Department of Income Tax.

We further appeal to Mr. K. G. Balakrishnan to demit the office of the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, to uphold the dignity, integrity, and the decorum of the legal profession and judiciary, until he is exonerated of all the charges after an investigation.”


1. Secretary – Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association
2. President – Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-010-2011
Countries : India,
Issues : Administration of justice, Corruption, Rule of law,