HC describes PIL as 'motivated ', imposes cost of Rs 25,000

Describing a PIL against police as "misconceived, motivated and not in public interest", the Bombay High Court has dismissed it and imposed costs of Rs 25,000 on the petitioners, Prajashathak Samajik Seva Sanstha.

The PIL alleged that Kolhapur Police was "illegally collecting funds from people by coercive methods".

Interestingly, this is the second time that fine of Rs 25,000 has been imposed on the petitioner on the same issue as it had filed a similar PIL earlier which was also dismissed.

The Maharashtra government opposed the PIL saying the petitioners had filed a similar PIL in 2010 which was dismissed by the Bombay High Court and also fined Rs 25,000 for filing "motivated" PIL.

The matter went up to the Supreme Court which also confirmed the High Court order and refused to entertain the PIL, the government informed the bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and A P Bhangale last week.

Hearing the government's plea, the court noted that the petitioners, in the current PIL, had not disclosed that they had filed a similar PIL earlier and that costs of Rs 25,000 were imposed. Instead of disclosing material facts, they filed a PIL on the same issue again, the Judges noted.

There is substance in the grievance of respondents that the petition does not constitute a bonafide invocation of the jurisdiction of this Court in public interest, they said.

In the earlier PIL filed on March 19, 2010, even before it could come up for admission, the petitioner issued a press note mentioning that the Court had taken serious note of the issue raised in the petition. Accordingly, diverse reports were published in media about the contents of the petition.

The Judges had then noted "false statement has been recorded in the press release that the High Court had taken a serious note of the issue. At that stage, save and except for directing that the petition would come up for hearing on April 1, 2010, there was no such order of the bench.

"The petition is therefore not a bonafide attempt at ventilating a genuine grievance in public interest".

The Court had also observed that "the attempt of the petitioner is to obtain publicity for itself and to malign the officers of the Police Department at Kolhapur. This Court must strongly deprecate the misuse of its jurisdiction by litigants such as the petitioner in aid of collateral ends".

Accordingly, the PIL was disposed of and costs of Rs 25,000 were imposed.
Hearing the current PIL, the judges noted that the petitioner had failed to disclose the fact that they had filed a similar PIL earlier in which costs were imposed after it was dismissed.

S N Patil, Assistant Government Pleader, invited the attention of the Court to a document filed by the petitioner with a description that it is a copy of the synopsis of the work done by the Sanstha and/or contribution of the Sanstha to the public welfare at large.
"However, on perusal of the said document, we are in agreement with the submission of the respondents that it is finding fault with the opinion recorded by this Court in the earlier PIL and which was confirmed right up to the Apex Court," the Judges, hearing the current PIL, noted.

Counsel for the petitioners, Manoj Patil, submitted that the said document is part of the Special Leave Petition filed before the Apex Court.

The Judges, however, noted "the fact remains that this Court has already declined to entertain PIL at the instance of these petitioners because of their conduct.

For the same reason and for additional reason of non-disclosure of those material facts in the present PIL, which came to be filed much later, on October 14, 2011, we have no hesitation in taking the view that the petitioners have not approached this Court with clean hands."

Even the present petition ought to be dismissed as motivated and filed by persons unworthy of pursuing PIL. Hence it is hereby dismissed and costs of Rs 25,000 imposed on petitioners," the judges said.

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