Vs. State of Punjab & Ors  Insc 15 (8 January 2007)
Arijit Pasayat & S.H. Kapadia (Arising out of Slp (C) No. 21781 of 2004) Dr.
Arijit Pasayat, J.
in this appeal is to the order passed by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana
High Court allowing the writ petition filed by the respondent No.7 Daljit
Singh, purportedly in public interest as a Public Interest Litigation (in short
'PIL'). Respondents 1 to 6 were official respondents in the writ petition.
Grievance in the writ petition was that the appellant had got appointment as
Audit Inspector, Co-operative Societies Ferozepur on the basis of Schedule
Caste certificate though she was not member of any Scheduled Caste. It was
averred that the appellant was married to Shri Jagminder Singh, member of the
Scheduled Caste and it was on that basis aforesaid certificate had been
obtained. It was stated that in spite of several complaints made to the
authorities, no effective action was taken. The official respondents filed a
reply to the effect that proceedings to cancel the scheduled caste certificate
were under progress and, therefore, the writ petition was premature. The
appellant filed a written statement stating that on account of her marriage
with Jagminder Singh, she was to be considered as a member of the scheduled
caste. It was pointed out that the writ petitioner was not qualified and only
because of personal vendetta he had filed the writ petition styled as a PIL.
The High Court by the impugned judgment issued a writ in the nature of qua warranto
setting aside the appointment of the appellant.
support of the appeal, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that in
service matters, PIL is not maintainable. The writ petition was filed because
of personal animosity and can by no stretch of imagination be considered to be a
public interest litigation.
counsel for the respondent No.7, on the other hand submitted that since the
appellant was not entitled to a certificate to the effect that she belonged to
any scheduled caste the authorities were bound to take action on his
scope of entertaining a petition styled as a public interest litigation, locus standi
of the petitioner particularly in matters involving service of an employee has
been examined by this court in various cases. The Court has to be satisfied
of the applicant;
the prima facie
correctness or nature of information given by him;
being not vague and indefinite. The information should show gravity and
seriousness involved. Court has to strike balance between two conflicting
nobody should be
allowed to indulge in wild and reckless allegations besmirching the character
of others; and
public mischief and to avoid mischievous petitions seeking to assail, for
oblique motives, justifiable executive actions. In such case, however, the
Court cannot afford to be liberal. It has to be extremely careful to see that
under the guise of redressing a public grievance, it does not encroach upon the
sphere reserved by the Constitution to the Executive and the Legislature. The
Court has to act ruthlessly while dealing with imposters and busy bodies or
meddlesome interlopers impersonating as public-spirited holy men. They
masquerade as crusaders of justice. They pretend to act in the name of Pro Bono
Publico, though they have no interest of the public or even of their own to
must do justice by promotion of good faith, and prevent law from crafty
invasions. Courts must maintain the social balance by interfering where
necessary for the sake of justice and refuse to interfere where it is against
the social interest and public good. (See State of Maharashtra v. Prabhu, (1994 (2) SCC 481), and Andhra Pradesh State Financial Corporation v. M/s GAR
Re-Rolling Mills and Anr., (AIR 1994 SC 2151). No litigant has a right to
unlimited draught on the Court time and public money in order to get his
affairs settled in the manner as he wishes. Easy access to justice should not
be misused as a licence to file misconceived and frivolous petitions. (See Dr.
B.K. Subbarao v. Mr. K. Parasaran, (1996 (7) JT 265). Today people rush to
Courts to file cases in profusion under this attractive name of public
interest. They must inspire confidence in Courts and among the public.
noted supra, a time has come to weed out the petitions, which though titled as
public interest litigations are in essence something else. It is shocking to
note that Courts are flooded with large number of so called public interest
litigations where even a minuscule percentage can legitimately be called as
public interest litigations. Though the parameters of public interest
litigation have been indicated by this Court in large number of cases, yet
unmindful of the real intentions and objectives, High Courts are entertaining
such petitions and wasting valuable judicial time which, as noted above, could
be otherwise utilized for disposal of genuine cases.
in Dr. Duryodhan Sahu and Ors. v. Jitendra Kumar Mishra and Ors. (AIR 1999 SC
114), this Court held that in service matters PILs should not be entertained,
the inflow of so-called PILs involving service matters continues unabated in
the Courts and strangely are entertained. The least the High Courts could do is
to throw them out on the basis of the said decision. The other interesting
aspect is that in the PILs, official documents are being annexed without even
indicating as to how the petitioner came to possess them. In one case, it was
noticed that an interesting answer was given as to its possession. It was
stated that a packet was lying on the road and when out of curiosity the
petitioner opened it, he found copies of the official documents. Whenever such
frivolous pleas are taken to explain possession, the Court should do well not
only to dismiss the petitions but also to impose exemplary costs. It would be
desirable for the Courts to filter out the frivolous petitions and dismiss them
with costs as afore-stated so that the message goes in the right direction that
petitions filed with oblique motive do not have the approval of the Courts.
aforesaid position was highlighted in Ashok Kumar Pandey v. State of W.B. (2004 (3) SCC 349).
depressing to note that on account of such trumpery proceedings initiated before
the Courts, innumerable days are wasted, which time otherwise could have been
spent for the disposal of cases of the genuine litigants. Though we spare no
efforts in fostering and developing the laudable concept of PIL and extending
our long arm of sympathy to the poor, the ignorant, the oppressed and the needy
whose fundamental rights are infringed and violated and whose grievance go
unnoticed, un-represented and unheard; yet we cannot avoid but express our
opinion that while genuine litigants with legitimate grievances relating to
civil matters involving properties worth hundreds of millions of rupees and
substantial rights and criminal cases in which persons sentenced to death
facing gallows under untold agony and persons sentenced to life imprisonment
and kept in incarceration for long years, persons suffering from undue delay in
service matters - government or private, persons awaiting the disposal of tax
cases wherein huge amounts of public revenue or unauthorized collection of tax
amounts are locked up, detenu expecting their release from the detention orders
etc. etc. are all standing in a long serpentine queue for years with the fond
hope of getting into the Courts and having their grievances redressed, the busy
bodies, meddlesome interlopers, wayfarers or officious interveners having
absolutely no real public interest except for personal gain or private profit
either of themselves or as a proxy of others or for any other extraneous
motivation or for glare of publicity break the queue muffing their faces by
wearing the mask of public interest litigation and get into the Courts by
filing vexatious and frivolous petitions of luxury litigants who have nothing
to loose but trying to gain for nothing and thus criminally waste the valuable
time of the Courts and as a result of which the queue standing outside the
doors of the court never moves, which piquant situation creates frustration in
the minds of the genuine litigants.
interest litigation is a weapon which has to be used with great care and circumspection
and the judiciary has to be extremely careful to see that behind the beautiful
veil of public interest an ugly private malice, vested interest and/or
publicity seeking is not lurking. It is to be used as an effective weapon in
the armory of law for delivering social justice to the citizens. The attractive
brand name of public interest litigation should not be allowed to be used for
suspicious products of mischief. It should be aimed at redressal of genuine
public wrong or public injury and not publicity oriented or founded on personal
vendetta. As indicated above, Court must be careful to see that a body of
persons or member of public, who approaches the court is acting bona fide and
not for personal gain or private motive or political motivation or other
oblique consideration. The Court must not allow its process to be abused for
oblique considerations by masked phantoms who monitor at times from behind.
Some persons with vested interest indulge in the pastime of meddling with
judicial process either by force of habit or from improper motives and try to
bargain for a good deal as well to enrich themselves.
they are actuated by a desire to win notoriety or cheap popularity. The
petitions of such busy bodies deserve to be thrown out by rejection at the
threshold, and in appropriate cases with exemplary costs.
Council for Public Interest Law set up by the Ford Foundation in USA defined the "public interest litigation"
in its report of Public Interest Law,
USA, 1976 as follows:
Interest Law is the name that has recently been given to efforts provide legal
representation to previously unrepresented groups and interests.
efforts have been undertaken in the recognition that ordinary market place for
legal services fails to provide such services to significant segments of the
population and to significant interests.
groups and interests include the proper environmentalists, consumers, racial
and ethnic minorities and others." (See : Dr. B. Singh v. Union of India
and Others (2004 (3) SCC 363) When a particular person is the object and target
of a petition styled as PIL, the court has to be careful to see whether the
attack in the guise of public interest is really intended to unleash a private
vendetta, personal grouse or some other mala fide object.
as rightly submitted by learned counsel for the appellant, writ petition itself
was not maintainable, to that extent the High Court's order cannot be
maintained. But it appears that the official respondents have already initiated
action as regards the caste certificate. Though PIL is not to be entertained in
service matters, that does not stand on the way of the officials from examining
the question in the right perspective. In the present case admittedly the
officials have initiated action. What action will be taken in such proceedings
is not the subject matter of controversy in the present appeal.
it shall not be construed as if we have expressed any opinion on the merits of
the proceedings stated to be pending.
only issue which has been examined relates to the locus standing of the writ
petitioner (respondent No.7) to file PIL.
appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent but without any order as to costs.