Lawsuit seeking chief justice’s ouster dismissed

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a lawsuit questioning Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan’s integrity besides his appointment as a Kerala High Court judge way back in 1985 despite alleged lack of requisite experience.

A bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the challenge to the appointment, coming after 24 years, was “too late”.

Chief Justice Balakrishnan’s appointment was challenged by Thrissur lawyer P.A. Chandran, who also sought the apex court’s direction to the central government to impeach the chief justice on the grounds that his initial appointment as high court judge was illegal and void.

Chandran argued that at the time of his appointment in September 1985, Balakrishnan lacked the requisite 10 years of experience of practice at the high court or working as a judicial officer in subordinate judiciary in such a rank which would have entitled him to become a district judge.

The lawyer also questioned the chief justice’s integrity, saying that he “claiming to be a member of the Scheduled Castes, exerted undue influence through erstwhile Kerala chief minister K. Karunakaran and erstwhile Kerala High Court chief justice K. Bhaskaran” to ensure his appointment as the high court judge.

Chandran’s lawsuit also accused the CJI of practising nepotism, saying that he got his own brother K.G. Vijayan’s brother-in-law C.T. Ravi Kumar appointed as a Kerala High Court judge in 2009 by extending an undue influence over the then chief justice of the high court.

Chandran argued that as the chief justice of the Kerala High Court expressed reluctance in recommending Ravi Kumar’s name for appointment as judge, Chief Justice Balakrishnan promised to elevate him as an apex court judge.

Chief Justice Balakrishnan eventually got him appointed as an apex court judge by ignoring the rights and entitlement of at least four senior chief justices of various high courts, Chandran alleged.

In the process, Chandran said his own chances of appointment as a judge at the Kerala High Court were marred.

During the arguments on the lawsuit, the bench said: “You are filing it after a delay of 24 years only because you were not selected as a high court judge.”

It also asked why lawsuit was filed under Article 32 of the constitution, entitling a citizen to move the apex court directly in case of violation of fundamental rights.

“How is your fundamental right affected?” asked the bench.

Chandran replied that his lawsuit was challenging the appointment of a constitutional authority and it was never too late for a citizen to do so.

“Every citizen has a legal right to file petition of ‘quo warranto’ against public office (for illegally occupying a public office),” said Chandran, quoting from a Supreme Court ruling.

The apex court, however, was not impressed with Chandran’s arguments and dismissed his petition.

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