Konakuppakatil Gopinathan Balakrishnan
Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, during an official visit to Brasília in 2008
37th Chief Justice of India
In office
14 January 2007 – 11 May 2010
Appointed byA. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Preceded byY. K. Sabharwal
Succeeded bySarosh Homi Kapadia
Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission of India
In office
7 June 2010 – 11 May 2015
Preceded byS. Rajendra Babu
Succeeded byH. L. Dattu
Personal details
Born (1945-05-12) 12 May 1945 (age 79)
Kaduthuruthy, Travancore, British India
SpouseNirmala Balakrishnan
Alma materGovernment Law College, Ernakulam

Konakuppakatil Gopinathan Balakrishnan (born 12 May 1945) is an Indian judge who served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India and later the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India. He was the first judge from Kerala to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His tenure lasting more than three years has been one of the longest in the Supreme Court of India. While being Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, he was appointed the acting governor of Gujarat from 16 January 1999 to 18 March 1999. In 2010, he was conferred with an honorary doctorate by Cochin University of Science and Technology.[1]

Early life and education

Justice K. G. Balakrishnan was born at Kaduthuruthy, near Vaikom, Kingdom of Travancore.[2][3] According to Balakrishnan, "Though my father was only a matriculate and my mother had her schooling only up to the seventh standard, they wanted to give their children the best education."[4] His father was a clerk in the Vaikom munsiff court and was a classmate of K. R. Narayanan who hailed from Uzhavoor, a village near Vaikom.[5]

After completing his primary education in Thalayolaparambu, he finished school at the Government High School, Vaikom for which he had to walk 5 km every day. Subsequently, he joined the Maharaja's College, Ernakulam, where he studied for his B.Sc. He took his Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from the Government Law College, Ernakulam, and enrolled as an advocate in the Kerala Bar Council in 1968, beginning practice at the Munsiff's court, Vaikom. He then completed his LL.M. in 1971.


Kerala High Court

As an advocate he pleaded both criminal and civil cases in the Ernakulam court. He was later appointed a Munsiff in the Kerala Judicial Services in 1973. He later resigned from the services and resumed practice as an advocate in the Kerala High Court. In 1985, he was appointed a judge of the Kerala High Court, and was transferred to the Gujarat High Court in 1997. He became the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court in 1998, and in 1999, he assumed charge as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Madras. While being Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, he was appointed the Acting Governor of Gujarat from 16 January 1999 to 18 March 1999. He also served as Patron in Chief and Executive Chairman of National Legal Service Authority.

He was also served as the Member of the General Council of the Gujarat National Law University.[6]

On 8 June 2000, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court. He was sworn in as the Chief Justice of India on 14 January 2007, by then President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.[7] He retired on 12 May 2010, and has served as the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission since 7 June 2010.[8]

Public stances, opinions and views

Balakrishnan has tried to exempt the Office of the Chief Justice of India from the purview of the Right to Information Act.[9] He ordered the Supreme Court registry to file an appeal before the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court judgement making the office of the CJI amenable to the RTI act.[10] He has also spoken about the need for amending the RTI act in the interests of the right to privacy.[11]

Justice K. G. Balakrishnan has said "due regard" must be given to the "personal autonomy" of rape victims to decide on whether they should marry the perpetrator or choose to give birth to a child conceived through forced crime.[12] Lawyers and women's rights activists have expressed some reservations.[13]

Justice KG Balakrishnan has stated that pornography sites and hate speeches should be banned from the internet.[14] He also passed a judgment stating that journaling on the web any thing hateful even against a political party is liable for censorship.[15]

On a visit to Kasaragode as NHRC Chairman initiating suo motu complaint, Balakrishnan felt there had been violations of human rights against the populace by the harmful spraying of the pesticide Endosulfan, and recommended the founding of a super-speciality hospital for the relief of the victims.[16]

Notable judgments

In a Kerala High Court judgement he asked the election commission to debar the political parties which impose hartals on the public causing them suffering.[17]

Making distribution of lunch compulsory in schools.[citation needed]

He was a part of the three-member Supreme Court bench that decided a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by two National Democratic Alliance leaders seeking the cancellation of bail of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and his wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi for their interference in the judicial process in the disproportionate assets (DA) and Income Tax cases against them. The verdict (2-1) went in favour of Prasad. Justice Balakrishnan and Justice Lakshmanan said according to Article 233 of the Constitution of India the Governor has power to appoint a judge in the subordinate judiciary in consultation with the High Court Administration and held that it was the prerogative of the government to appoint any lawyer as public prosecutor. However, Justice S H Kapadia gave a dissenting judgement saying the income tax department should have filed an appeal against the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) order. On the issue of promotion of judge Munni Lal Paswan, he said, while competence and suitability of two other judges, who were promoted to the post of Special Judge along with Paswan, were determined on the basis of annual confidential report (ACRs) and inspecting the judges' reports, the criteria were not applied while promoting Paswan who had been found to be slow in disposing cases.[18][19]

In 2010, he passed a judgement prohibiting narcoanalysis in interrogations.[20]


Justice H. L. Gokhale of the Supreme Court has accused Balakrishnan of misrepresenting facts to conceal sacked telecom minister A. Raja's attempt to influence Justice R. Reghupathy of the Madras High Court, on behalf of two murder accused known to the DMK leader.[21] A petition-seeking vigilance probe into the allegations of "amassment of wealth disproportionate to their sources of income" by Balakrishnan's family members, was filed before the Income Tax Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau.[22] In February 2012, the Supreme Court of India in a case filed by the NGO Common Cause, inquired of the government as to the progress in the probe against Justice Balakrishnan.[23]

Personal life

Justice K. G. Balakrishnan is married to Nirmala and they have a son and two daughters - Pradeep, Sony and Rani. He has 5 brothers and 2 sisters. His younger brother K. G. Bhaskaran was government pleader in Kerala High Court and another brother K. G. Raju was conferred IAS by Kerala Government and served as District Collector for Wayanad, Kerala.[24]



  1. ^ "Acceptance speech by Justice K.G Balakrishnan". CUSAT. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  2. ^ "Justice K. G. Balakrishnan: Rising From Down Under". Ambedkar.org. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  3. ^ Nilofar Suhrawardy. "‘Pride of Kerala’ Is India’s Chief Justice". Arab News. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  4. ^ Shloka Nath (28 December 2009). "People's Advocate". Forbes. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  5. ^ V. K. Shashikumar (17 June 2011). "How ex-CJI was compromised by his political lobbying". Firstpost. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Centre moves Gujarat Governor to Rajasthan, raises questions Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine." Indian Express. 14 January 1999.
  7. ^ Hon'ble Justice Mr. K. G. Balakrishnan Archived 13 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Balakrishnan is NHRC chairman
  9. ^ CJI's Office Comes Within RTI Act: Delhi HC Archived 17 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine. news.outlookindia.com. Retrieved on 2010-12-27.
  10. ^ Supreme Court challenges verdict bringing CJI under RTI
  11. ^ RTI Act needs changes to ensure privacy: Balakrishnan
  12. ^ The Hindu : News / National : Respect personal autonomy of rape victims, says K. G. Balakrishnan. Beta.thehindu.com (2010-03-08). Retrieved on 2010-12-27.
  13. ^ Women blast Balakrishnan remarks on rape victims. Indiatoday.intoday.in (2010-03-09). Retrieved on 2010-12-27.
  14. ^ CJI wants ban on websites displaying porn Archived 6 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Express India. Retrieved on 2010-12-27.
  15. ^ Bloggers can be nailed for views – The Times of India. Timesofindia.indiatimes.com (2009-02-24). Retrieved on 2010-12-27.
  16. ^ NHRC chairperson to visit Endosulfan-affected areas NHRC moots super-specialty hospital for Endosulfan victims Video coverage on YouTube NHRC's Recommendations on Endosulfan, 31 Dec. 2010 Archived 2 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Supreme Court may get first Dalit CJ". 31 July 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  18. ^ "SC reprieve for Lalu PIL to cancel bail rejected". 22 August 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  19. ^ "Lalu, Rabri win a reprieve in SC". The Times of India. 22 August 2006. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  20. ^ Venkatesan, V. (22 May 2010). "Moment of truth". Frontline. Archived from the original on 11 February 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  21. ^ Venkatesan, J. (7 January 2011). "Produce Regupathi's letter to Gokhale". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  22. ^ "Petition seeking vigilance probe against KGB family members filed". Indian Express. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  23. ^ "Ex-CJI assets: SC asks govt about action taken". The Statesman. 10 February 2013. Archived from the original on 22 February 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  24. ^ "Another son- in- law of ex-CJI K. G. Balakrishnan in the dock". Yahoo! News India. 5 January 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  25. ^ CJI points to ignorance of Judges Archived 26 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ K. G. Balakrishnan: Terrorism, rule of law, and human rights[usurped], The Hindu, 16 December 2008.
  27. ^ Death penalty has deterrent effect: NHRC chairperson, The Hindu, 2 August 2010

Further reading

Legal offices Preceded byYogesh Kumar Sabharwal Chief Justice of India 14 January 2007 – 12 May 2010 Succeeded byS. H. Kapadia Government offices Preceded byAnshuman Singh Governor of Gujarat (Acting) Jan 1999 – March 1999 Succeeded bySunder Singh Bhandari