Friday, February 10, 2017

We must stop trash clogging courts

The Supreme Court made an example of RJD MLA Ravindra Singh on Friday by fining him Rs 10 lakh for wasting "precious judicial time" through frivolous litigation, thus sending a message to habitual PIL petitioners to be wary of hefty costs.

Half-an-hour before rejecting the plea for leniency of the Bihar legislator he had questioned the veracity of an article published in a magazine in 1994 a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud had imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on a retired 66-year-old teacher from Maharashtra who had moved the SC to challenge a reservation related notification of the state government.

In both cases, CJI Khehar was ruthless and laid out the apex court's new mantra: "weed out frivolous litigation". "Every day, we waste precious judicial time by going through these voluminous frivolous petitions. These busybodies must be stopped. Why should we accept such petitions? These petitions are multiplying with each passing day. What is going on? Why should three judges of the SC waste time dealing with such trash?" he asked.

Ravindra Singh was elected to the Bihar assembly in 2015 from Arwal. A matriculate with declared assets of Rs 93.46 lakh, Singh had filed a writ petition in Patna High Court in 2015 questioning the veracity of news reports published 21 years ago in 'Nyay Chakra' between February 15, 1994 and April 14, 1994. The HC on December 16 last year dismissed the petition as unjustified. Singh appealed before the SC.

The CJI-headed bench said, "We fail to understand what prompted the petitioner to file the petition before the high court in 2015 in respect of an article published in 1994. We also fail to understand why the petitioner filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the December 16, 2016 order which was explicit and clear.

The method adopted by Singh is uncondonable, more so because he is a representative of the people and an MLA."

Supreme Court ignores MLA's repeated calls for leniency

When MLA Singh's counsel said the fine was rather hefty, the CJI recounted a story from his college days, "The dean of our hostel fined a student Rs 25 for some misconduct. The student took exception to the fine amount and told the dean that he was from such and such rich family and that he could not be insulted by such a meagre fine amount."

In a lighter vein, the CJI told the counsel, "You should adopt the same argument. How can the SC insult me with such a pittance of a penalty. Come on, impose Rs 1 crore." Repeated pleas for a lenient penalty fell on deaf ears.

The SC had entertained the first PIL titled Husainara Khatoon filed by advocate Kapila Hingorani in 1979 to highlight the pitiable plight of 

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