I-T begins probe into charges against former CJI''s family

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Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi, Jan 12 (PTI) Troublesmounted for former CJI K G Balakrishnan today when a localcourt directed police to look into charges of amassing wealthby his family members into which I-T department also began aprobe.

Acting on a private complaint, a Thiruvananthapuramcourt ordered the Kochi Police Commissioner to probe theallegations of amassing wealth disproportionate to their knownsources of income against Balakrishnan''s sons-in-law P VSreenijan and M J Benny and brother K G Bhaskaran.

The directive by the judicial magistrate A M Basheerwas issued on a private complaint by one Francis Pradeeplal,who sought an inquiry into the allegations.

In a related development, the Income Tax investigationwing said it had begun a preliminary inquiry into the chargesthat the family members of Balakrishnan, who is thechairperson of National Human Rights Commission.

"Preliminary enquiry is on," a source in the ITdepartment told PTI in Kochi.

Asked if anyone was questioned, the sources said ''Weare looking into the matter'', but refused to give any details.

Director General of Income Tax Investigation, E TLukose, and other senior officials are looking into theallegations.

Today''s court directive and the I-T probe come daysafter a vigilance court in Thrissur admitted a petition filedby an NGO seeking an investigation into the charges.

Balakrishnan is named as the first respondent in the casebefore a Thrissur court which will come up for further hearingon January 18.

After the allegations surfaced, Sreenijan had resignedfrom Youth Congress while Bhaskaran had quit as governmentpleader in the high court.

Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan meanwhile saidhe had not received any report on legal hurdles in conductinga vigilance inquiry into allegations against Sreenijan.

"I did not receive any information," Achuthanandansaid when reporters sought his reaction to the reportedopinion of Vigilance legal advisor on "unviability" ofordering a probe into allegations against Sreenijan.

Achuthanandan had last week recommended a probe afterhe received a private complaint against Sreenijan, followingwhich it was referred to vigilance and anti-corruptionbureau''s legal advisor to examine the feasibility of a probe.

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New allegations have surfaced that Benny had purchasedan office paying about Rs 35 lakh in the posh marine drivenear the high court in Kochi while the going rate was overcrores. He had also purchased various other properties.

Media reports had earlier alleged that Sreenijan hadalso purchased an office space in the posh area besidesbuilding a resort at Thrissur and flats and properties, whileBhaskaran had bought landed properties in Kerala and TamilNadu.

In a campaign to mount pressure on the Kerala HighCourt advocates association to move a resolution seekingJustice Balakrishnan''s resignation as NHRC chief and order aprobe into the allegations, a group of lawyers of the Highcourt today began a signature campaign.

Until the probe was over, Justice Balakrishnan shouldstep down, they said.

The lawyers are likely to submit the notice to theassociation tomorrow.

Yesterday, a meeting of association to discuss aresolution on corruption in higher Judiciary failed to takeany decision as two sections of advocates demanded and opposedspecific amendments seeking probe into the allegations.

The general body was called by the association todiscuss the resolution to request a fact finding enquiry aboutthe contents of letter submitted by former law minister ShantiBhushan alleging corruption in higher judiciary.

But many members had objected to the amendmentsagainst justice Balakrishnan.

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