Misuse of public interest litigation

The concept of Public Interest Litigation i.e. PIL has been developed with a great motive to raise issues related to public welfare. It is a constitutional right of the citizens of India and an effective instrument to serve the public. Unfortunately, some of us use this instrument to espouse our own vested interests. Resultantly, the Supreme Court in the case of Chairman & MD.BPL. Ltd. vs. S.P. Gururaja & Ors, (2003) 8 SCC 576 cautioned that the conduct of the petitioners filing Public Interest Litigation is very crucial and the court should circumspect in entertaining any challenge at the instance of unscrupulous petitioners.

In this context, recently, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh presided by Chief Justice Mr. A. M. Khanvilkar and Justice Mr. Ajit Singh, decided Writ Petition No. 1967/2006 and passed remarkable order dated 28.11.2013 in the case of Devendra Prakash Mishra and another vs. State of M.P. The petitioners, who are advocates,had prayed for declaration and removal of construction made by private respondent nos. 6 and 7. They had also sought to issue directions to the state authorities in this regard. The petitioners had further prayed to appoint independent agency out of state to enquire into the matter.

After perusal of records and pleadings, the Hon’ble High Court found that the allegations made in the petition were baseless. It was also revealed that the said petition was filed to espouse personal interest out of vengeance. It was revealed that the father of petitioner no. 1 had filed a suit before a civil court asserting easementary rights in the subject land owned and possessed by respondent nos. 6 and 7, which eventually came to be dismissed as withdrawn on the finding that the plaintiff had no right, title or interest therein. The father of the petitioner no. 1 sought liberty from the civil court to resort to the writ petition but, instead, had put up the petitioner no. 1, his son, to pursue the same cause of action in the name of Public Interest Litigation. The petitioner no. 2 had been made namesake petitioner.

The Hon’ble High Court opined that the petition is devoid of merits and dismissed the same with exemplary cost, quantified at Rupees 5 lacs, to be paid to the respondents within six weeks from the date of the order. The above judgment rendered by the Hon’ble High Court is an outstanding precedent in the field of Public Interest Litigation.

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