Secretary, M.P.S.C. Vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors.  Insc 1305 (14 December 2007)
Arijit Pasayat & Lokeshwar Singh Panta
out of SLP (C) No. 12279 of 2006) [with Crl. Appeal No.1726 of 2007 (Arising
out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.5498 of 2006] Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
These two appeals are inter-connected in the sense that they have their matrix
in connected matters. In the appeal relating to SLP No.12279/2006 challenge is
to the order in writ petition 482 of 2003 while in the appeal relating to SLP (Crl.)
No.5498/2006 challenge is to the order in Crl. Writ petition No.1048 of 2006.
As noted above, the writ petitions are linked in the sense that a writ petition
was filed by two practicing advocates alleging on the basis of some newspaper
report that there was large scale malpractice in the examination conducted by
the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (in short the Commission).
ACB C.R. No.33/2002 was registered and one S.B. Pujari was initially investigating
into the allegations. The writ petitioners alleged that said investigating
officer had collected material and process of arresting one Smt. Sayalee Joshi
and others and to pre-empt such acts he was transferred on 31.1.2003. From time
to time 22 accused persons were arrested. An affidavit was filed by the then
Director General on 12.5.2006 indicating that investigation in the said crime
no.33/2002 had come to an end. Shri Pujari had filed affidavit that the
investigation was not yet complete. He had been transferred by a general
transfer order dated 6.9.2006. Shri Anil P. Dhere filed an affidavit indicating
that the investigation is complete. Shri S.B. Pujari requested that more time
was required to be granted to him to respond the affidavit of Shri Anil P. Dhere.
the High Court did not consider that to be necessary. The High Court was of the
view that if the Special
Court before which
the matter was pending issued necessary directions, even after conclusion of
the investigation if any, further materials can be collected against any
accused persons can be brought on record. The stand of the Commission was that
subsequently there was another case registered i.e. ACB 7/2006. Prayer was to
quash the said proceedings and to continue investigation in ACB 33/2002. The
High Court felt that the same shall be considered on merits uninfluenced by
orders passed in Writ Petition no.482/03. The High Court observed that there
was different perception of investigation between Shri Anil P. Dhere and Shri
S.B. Pujari. The High Court accordingly disposed of the writ petition. The High
Court felt since Shri S.B. Pujari had put in three years in investigating the
State Government would be objective and would not take any adverse view of the
stand taken by Shri Pujari. It was clarified that affidavit of Shri S.B. Pujari
was not to be used in any other proceedings.
the connected matter the prayer was to quash the first information report no.7
of 2006 on the ground that crime no.33/2002 was pending and there was overlapping.
The High Court felt that the two were conceptually different. It was directed
that the investigation shall be conducted fairly under the supervision of Shri
G.D. Virk, the Director General of Police, Bombay and the Commission should cooperate in the investigation. The Director
General was directed to submit progress report periodically.
Essentially the stand of the learned counsel for the Commission was that the
criminal proceeding has resulted in loss of face for the statutory body.
Ultimately it appears that in the name of Public Interest Litigation the
transfer of police official has been questioned which is impermissible. Because
of the difference of perception regarding the nature of functions if any
unnecessarily officials of Commission are being entangled. It is the ultimate
objective of the Commission to conduct examinations. The examinations are not
being held for a long period.
response, Mr. Goolam E. Vahanvati, learned Solicitor General for the State
submitted that the writ petitions are not maintainable because in a Public
Interest Litigation the transfer of an official could not have been questioned.
It is also highlighted that petitions questioning transfer of respondent no.7
Ms. Seema P. Dhamdhere, Secretary, MPSC, on the same plea was mala fide. The
said Ms. Seema P. Dhamdhere, has in the capacity as the Secretary of MPSC filed
the SLP no.12279/2006 in which leave has been granted.
who had appeared in person submitted that because he has unearthed certain
damaging evidence and materials which would have exposed placed officials he
was being transferred.
parameters of Public Interest Litigation in matters of service have been
highlighted by this Court in many cases. In Gurpal Singh v. State of Punjab and Ors. (2005 (5) SCC 136) it was
noted as follows:
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
credentials of the applicant;
prima facie correctness or nature of information given by him;
information being not vague and indefinite. The information should show gravity
and seriousness involved. Court has to strike balance between two conflicting
should be allowed to indulge in wild and reckless allegations besmirching the
character of others; and
of public mischief and to avoid mischievous petitions seeking to assail, for
oblique motives, justifiable executive actions.
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.
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
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. Though 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.
both the cases the affected persons have filed writ petition. It is true that
if the allegations are found to be substantiated it would affect the image of
Commission. But that cannot be a ground to stall investigation which has to be
done in a transparent manner. The credibility of any institution depends upon
the transparent action of its functionaries. It is pointed out by the learned
counsel for the Commission that it would be in the interest of all concerned if
the examinations which are said to have been not held for nearly five years are
held early. The process of selection of the Chairman and the members would be
initiated forthwith if not already done. It has been stated that the new
Secretary of the Commission has taken over.
is pointed out by the learned Solicitor General that the writ petition 7/2003
has already been disposed of.
do not find any scope for interference with the orders passed by the High
Court. The appeals are accordingly disposed of.