Mumbai: Echoing the sentiments of the Supreme Court that frivolous public interest litigation (PILs) are the bane on our judicial system, the Bombay High Court recently lamented over the increasing number of such frivolous PILs being filed in courts.
Calling it a classic case of “gross abuse of the court process”, a division bench of Justices GS Patel and SG Dige recently directed that a pre-hearing deposit of Rs3 lakh made by the petitioner in that PIL be converted to costs and paid to the St Jude India Child Care Centres which support cancer-affected children and their families. The justices said that they wanted to send a strong message to those who seek to abuse and misuse the system.
Mischievous and frivolous PILs bane of our judicial system
“We do not permit this petition 'to be converted' into a public interest litigation nor do we permit it to be withdrawn with the liberty to file a public interest litigation. As the Supreme Court has repeatedly said, false, mischievous and frivolous public interest litigations are increasingly the bane of our judicial system,” said the court. It added: “While we are rejecting the petition but we intend to send a strong message to those who seek to abuse and misuse our system and believe they can do so without costs.”
SRA project PIL
The HC was hearing a PIL filed by one Abhilasha Reddy challenging a slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) project.
Earlier, another bench of the Court had directed Reddy to deposit Rs3 lakh as a pre-condition to hear the case and so that the bona fides of the petitioner could be demonstrated. Despite the deposit, the bench headed by Justices Patel was not convinced about the petitioner’s locus to file the present PIL and proceeded to reject the petition.
The petitioner had made various allegations of irregularities, illegalities, and collusion with respect to the slum rehabilitation project. The Court, however, noted that the beneficiaries of the slum rehabilitation had no complaints.
Therefore, it is unclear on whose behalf the petition was filed, the bench observed.
The Court further noted that the petitioner had not indicated how he obtained information regarding the alleged irregularities mentioned in his petition. While the petitioner later claimed on affidavit that he was an RTI activist, the Court noted that it was not even his case that he had obtained information on the allegations through disclosures under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act).
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