Monday, September 20, 2010

HC fines 3 petitioners for filing trivial PILs

Ahmedabad: The amount of fine imposed by the Gujarat High Court on litigants filing frivolous PILs seems to have increased. The high court recently imposed fine of Rs 20,000 each on three different litigants for wasting the court’s time by filing public interest litigations (PILs) that had nothing to do with public interest. Courts, so far, impose a penalty of Rs 5,000 to discourage such practice.

In one such case, a bench headed by Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhaya fined one Dayabhai Kasa of Rajkot. Kasa had filed a public interest litigation complaining that an FIR was registered in connection with an offence, but police did not nab the accused person. He sought directions from HC for police to arrest the accused. This irked the judges, who observed that in many criminal cases accused were absconding but that cannot be a ground for filing a PIL. There is no public interest in this case, the court said. Kasa was asked to deposit the amount of fine with the Gujarat State Legal Services Authority.
In the second similar case, the South Gujarat Textile Processors Association had filed a PIL demanding action against the people and agencies involved in issuing registration certificate for weavers, which were found to be fake. There were many members of this association who were facing recovery of Cenvat credit on the basis of invoices issued by the registered weavers. The association sought a stay on recovery, which the court denied and termed the petitioner an “interested person”. The PIL was dismissed and fine of Rs 20,000 slapped on the association.
In the third case, HC asked one Manoj Baktarwala to furnish Rs 20,000 for filing a review petition. Interestingly, the HC directed him to deposit the amount with the Red Cross Society (RCS) within six weeks. The court had earlier dismissed his PIL after it was brought to court’s notice that he had personal interest in the litigation, but he requested the court to review its decision. This made the judges to fine the Baktarwala. “In case the petitioner does not pay the amount to the RCS, the organisation has been permitted to approach the collector for the recovery of the amount by the way of arrears of land revenue,” HC ordered.

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