Cost case: SC tells B'luru activist to amend plea

Cost case: SC tells B'luru activist to amend plea

The Supreme Court on Monday told social activist T J Abraham that it is ready to reduce Rs 25 lakh cost imposed on him last year for filing a "frivolous" PIL, provided he amends his plea for seeking such a relief.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked him to file an amended application within two weeks time.

Abraham was slapped with a whopping Rs 25 lakh cost on July 3, 2017 for challenging shifting of a proposed mini Vidhana Soudha in Kalaburagi district in Karnataka by filing a public interest litigation.

Hearing his plea for extension of time, the court objected to certain assertions made in an application for seeking more time to deposit the cost. The bench did not appreciate his contention that his counsel-senior advocate Salman Khurshid did not present his case well, inviting wrath of the court.

Abraham submitted that he was very much present on that day and the counsel did not argue well. "Give me 15 minutes time, I will prove how this is the fantastic case, a beautiful case, the best PIL, ever filed," he said.

Khurshid, who was also present, submitted that he had appeared pro bono as a counsel in the matter, but the petitioner has sent him a notice for not arguing the case properly.

The court then appointed Khurshid as amicus curiae in the matter and asked him to file a fresh plea.

"We are inclined to reduce the costs, if the petitioner amends these applications keeping in view the concept of propriety," the bench said.

"In the meantime, no coercive steps be taken against the petitioner for realisation of costs," the court added. The court put the matter for further consideration on March 5.

Abraham later said that he has sent a Rs 2-crore notice to Khurshid.

He had then challenged shifting of mini Vidhana Soudha (an office complex for the government) by a distance of six km in Kalaburagi. The court, however, said it was not a matter of public interest and did not espouse any kind of public cause.

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