Friday, January 7, 2011

K.G. Balakrishnan is not the only one

In the three years K.G. Balakrishnan headed the Supreme Court, the assets of his sons-in-law and brother, all practising law in his and their native state Kerala, went up manifold. First he tried to explain their windfall gains by saying that just in one hearing lawyers can charge anything up to Rs.80 lac realising almost immediately thereafter that perhaps he exaggerated the things a little too much and that his relatives were not so hot shots as lawyers. Then he changed his tune and said that it was for his relatives to explain their assets disproportionate, if so, to their incomes and he had nothing to say on that. He also, as if, dared his critics, who include the most celebrated living retired Supreme Court judge, Justice V.K. Krishna Iyer, to point out even one act of his as the head of the Supreme Court or that of the National Human Rights Commission that was not fair.

Balakrishnan’s protestations notwithstanding, the source of his relatives’ sudden riches are obvious to all save him but he has a point; the trail has got to be shown as connected to his actions as the head of the Supreme Court before accusing him of malfeasance and asking for his resignation as the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. In my opinion it is not going to be rocket science and should be quite straight forward provided this weak central government is able to muster the required political will. And if it delays action on this for whatever incompetence or lack of courage it may be suffering from, the others like karunanidhi and Mayawati will get a chance to jump into the fray calling it yet another case of Dalit-baiting after hounding the poor A. Raja out of the Union cabinet on trumped up charges of causing a loss of Rs.1.76 lac crore to the exchequer.

But to be fair to Balakrishnan, he is not the only one among the illustrious persons who got to head the Supreme Court at one time or the other and who did not add to the prestige of that august office. His immediate predecessor, Y.K. Sabbarwal, had his two sons practicing their business of constructing malls and other commercial buildings from his official residence and it was just a matter of chance that when the father was ordering sealing of shops and other commercial establishments located in non-conforming areas of Delhi, the sons were constructing, what could be termed as, costly alternatives for them. If not all found dishonest by the senior advocate and former Union law minister, Shanti Bhushan, at least sabbarwal should be made to give company to Balakrishnan in facing investigation and trial for giving undue and most unethical and immoral advantage to their progeny and other relatives.

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