Public interest litigation (PIL): India

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History: How the PIL court originated
The Times of India

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Dec 12 2016: The Times of India 

Three-and-a-half decades ago, the Supreme Court in S P Gupta case on December 30, 1981, broke away from legal orthodoxy to evolve a unique device ­ public interest litigation or PIL.Those involved in affairs of the poor and the voiceless could file PILs before the SC and high courts to seek protection of rights of people condemned to live on the fringe.

Though formal coinage of the term `PIL' happened in the S P Gupta case, it was advocate Kapila Hingorani who was the first to file a `PIL' on behalf of hundreds of undertrial prisoners in Bihar, who languished in jail for periods which were much more than the maximum punishment they would have got if convicted. The SC decided Hingorani's petition, Hussainara Khatoon vs Bihar Home Se cretary , on March 9, 1979 and ruled that “every accused unable to engage a lawyer or secure legal services has a constitutional right to get free legal services, the cost of which must be borne by the state“.

The underlying intention in creating this special device was to universalise access to justice. After Hussainara Khatoon, the SC while dealing with another PIL by NGO `Bandhua Mukti Morcha', had secured the release of thousands of bonded labourers, many of them minors, from stone quarries in Haryana.

Advocate M C Mehta moved a PIL in the SC in 1985 seeking protection of environment and enforcement of Delhiites' right to clean air. Even after 30 years, this PIL survives as the court has used it as a base to deal with many environmental issues. Mehta went on to win the Magsaysay award. Despite winning the award, Mehta remained as simple as he was when he had filed the PIL. But the resultant fame and money did not escape the notice of advocates, who now aspire to walk in Mehta's footsteps.

This explains why so many advocates are seeking fame daily through PILs in the SC and HCs. Many genuine PILs are still filed. But a majority is frivolous, filed by lawyers who have no knowledge of the issue or cause they seek to highlight. On many occasions, PILs have been filed in the SC after coming to know of an incident from the morning paper.

PILs have touched all issues under the sun. It has become a fashion to file a PIL and seek immediate publicity in the media. That was certainly not the SC's intention when it devised the instrument to make justice reach those standing last in society.

This was explained by the SC in People's Union for Democratic Rights [1982 AIR 1473]. It had said, “If sugar barons and alcohol kings have the fundamental right to carry on their business and to fatten their purses by exploiting the consuming public, have the `chamars' belonging to the lowest strata of society no fundamental right to earn an honest living through their sweat and toil? The former can approach the courts with a formidable army of distinguished lawyers paid in four or five figures per day and if their right to exploit is upheld against the government under the label of fundamental right, the courts are praised for their boldness and courage and their independence and fearlessness and are applauded and acclaimed.

“But if the fundamental right of the poor and helpless victims of injustice is sought to be enforced by public interest litigation, the so-called champions of human rights frown upon it as a waste of ti me of the highest court in the land, which, according to them, should not engage itself in such small and trifling matters. Moreover, these self-styled human rights activists forget that civil and political rights, priceless and invaluable as they are for freedom and democracy, simply do not exist for the vast masses of our people.“

Times have changed considerably in the last 35 years. Changing times have convoluted the priorities of PILs. This was explained by the SC in 2004 in Dattaraj Nathuji Thaware case. It had said, “Public Interest Litigation, which has now come to occupy an important field in the administration of law, should not be `publicity interest litigation' or `private interest litigation' or `politics interest litigation' or the latest trend `paise income litigation'. It is depressing to note that on account of such trumpery proceedings initiated before the co urts, innumerable days are wasted, which time otherwise could have been spent for the disposal of cases of the genuine litigants.“

In Janata Dal vs H S Chowdhary [1992 (4) SCC 305], the SC had said, “Only a person acting bona fide and having sufficient interest in the proceeding of PIL will have locus standi and can approach the court to wipe out the tears of the poor and needy , suffering from violation of their fundamental rights, but not a person for personal gain or private profit or political motive or any oblique consideration. Similarly , a vexatious petition under the colour of PIL brought before the court for vindicating any personal grievance, deserves rejection at the threshold.“

The time has come for the SC to invent a procedure to separate real PILs from the other kind of PILs which were explained in the Thaware case more than a decade ago.

Approaching Executive/ Judiciary?

'Litigants should approach the government before courts'

From the archives of The Times of India 2007, 2009

‘Approach govt before courts’

Will Not Allow PIL Petitioners To Bypass Authorities, Says SC Bench


New Delhi: After warning that those filing frivolous PILs would be saddled with deterrent fines, the Supreme Court said even genuine PIL petitioners would have to first seek justice from the executive.

“No one, howsoever genuine their cause may be, should approach the courts with a PIL without even sending a notice to the authorities for redressal of the grievance,” said a bench comprising CJI S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar.

When counsel for NGO Ankush, which had sought implementation of road safety measures by the Andhra Pradesh government, said it had no personal interest and that it was acting in public interest, the CJI asked: “Where is your notice to the concerned authorities demanding justice in this issue?”

“A proper procedure has to be followed by the courts for entertaining PILs. There is no way that a petitioner, who comes straight to the court with a PIL, will be entertained,” said the CJI, speaking for the bench.

Addressing a long standing grievance of the executive that the judiciary has been encroaching into its turf, Justice Kapadia said: “The PIL petitioners have been moving the courts straightaway without even bringing the problem to the notice of the authorities. And the courts have been entertaining these PILs, virtually taking over the function of the authorities. We will not allow such bypassing of the authorities to take place any more.”

The new rules would drastically cut down the rate of filing of PILs in the court. For, while those filing frivolous ones would be scared of being saddled with heavy costs, which the CJI had said on Thursday would be utilized for improving infrastructure of the subordinate judiciary, even genuine PILs would not be entertained if the petitioners have not brought their problem to the notice of the concerned authorities for justice.

Hasty/ Frivolous PILs

From the archives of The Times of India 2007, 2009 2010

SC lays down guidelines to prevent frivolous PILs

Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN

New Delhi: Despite the undeniable social benefit of public interest litigation (PIL), the Supreme Court has expressed concern over gross abuse of this instrument in courts in the recent past.

To curb PILs from being hijacked by vested interests, a Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and M K Sharma has laid down a 10-point stringent guideline for all high courts, including imposing exemplary cost on busybodies and frivolous PIL petitioners.

Terming PIL jurisdiction as extremely important, the Bench said guidelines were necessary to preserve the purity and sanctity of PILs. Highlights of the guidelines are:

Encourage genuine and bonafide PIL and discourage and curb those filed for extraneous considerations.

Instead of every individual judge devising his own procedure for dealing with public interest litigation, it would be appropriate for each HC to properly formulate rules for encouraging genuine PILs and discouraging PILs filed with oblique motives. HCs should frame rules in this regard within three months.

Verify credentials of petitioner before entertaining a PIL.

Ascertain correctness of facts mentioned in PIL.

Check whether substantial public interest is involved.

Give priority to PILs involving larger public interest.

Ensure that the PIL seeks redressal of a genuine public harm or injury and that there is no personal gain, private motive or oblique motive behind it.

2016: SC’s displeasure

The Times of India, May 10 2016

Lawyer may've to pay dearly for hasty PIL

An advocate's attempt to rely on online information to file a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking eviction of encroachers from national monuments could become a very costly affair for him.

A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit asked petitioner Rajeshwar Singh's counsel whether he had done any ground study on the encroachments. The counsel conceded that most of the material annexed to the PIL was downloaded from the web. The bench said this tendency of rushing to the court without any study had resulted in waste of judicial time. Adjourning the hearing by two months, the bench asked the petitioner to go on an all-India tour, visit the monuments which had been encroached upon, take photographs and place them before the SC.

2017/ SC: Rs 10L fine for `frivolous' PIL

Dhananjay Mahapatra, SC slaps Rs 10L fine on Bihar MLA for filing `frivolous' PIL, Feb 11, 2017: The Times of India

We Must Stop Trash Clogging Courts: CJI

The Supreme Court made an example of RJD MLA Ravindra Singh 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 volumino us 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 elec ted 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 21years 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.“ 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 inmates in a Bihar prison. A year later, in S P Gupta case, the SC articulated the public interest litigation tool, somewhat similar to the class action suit in the US, to enable a dogooder to approach constitutional courts on behalf of the poor and voiceless for protection of their fundamental rights.

Over the years, many landmark judgments were passed on protection of fundamental rights on issues brought forth through PILs. But in the last decade, a flurry of PILs, involving almost every issue under the sun, crowded dockets of constitutional courts and led to delay in justice in other cases. Today's development will make habitual PIL petitioners stop in their tracks and think twice before moving a petition before the SC and HCs.

SC asks courts to impose “exemplary costs“

AmitAnand Choudhary, March 8, 2017: The Times of India

The Supreme Court has asked all courts to impose “exemplary costs“ on people who file frivolous petitions, saying such litigation “chokes“ the judicial system. A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice S K Kaul said liberal access to justice had led to chaos and indiscipline.“The sanctity of the judicial process will be seriously eroded if such attempts are not dealt with firmly . A litigant who takes liberties with the truth or with the procedures of the court should be left in no doubt about the consequences to follow,“ the bench said.

Justice Chandrachud, who wrote the judgment, said exemplary costs were inevitable and even necessary . “Frivolous and groundless filing constitute a serious menace to the administration of justice. They consume time and clog the infrastructure. Productive resources, which should be deployed in the handling of genuine causes, are dissipated in attending to cases filed only to benefit from delay , by prolonging dead issues and pursuing worthless causes,“ the judgment said.The court issued the order while imposing a fine of Rs 5 lakh on a tenant who refused to abide by a Bombay high court order to vacate a property and filed multiple applications to delay the implementation of the court's order.

“This tendency can be curbed only if courts across the system adopt an institutional approach which penalises such behaviour,“ the bench said, adding, “Unless remedial action is taken by all courts here and now, our society will breed a legal culture based on evasion instead of abidance. It is the duty of every court to firmly deal with such situations.“

SC’s Rs 25 lakh fine for frivolous PIL

[AmitAnand Choudhary| Jul 04 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi

Rs 25 lakh fine for frivolous PIL

The Supreme Court on Monday slapped Rs 25 lakh cost on an activist for filing a PIL challenging the shifting of the mini Vidhan Sabha in Gulbarga district of Karnataka. The apex court said that shifting of mini Vidhan Soudha, an office complex for government, by 6km in Gulbarga was not public interest. A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar said the petition was an abuse of the concept of public interest litigation as it does not espouse any kind of public cause. Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for social activist T J Abraham, said the cost was too harsh.The SC, however, directed the amount to be deposited in the apex court registry. PTI

2018: SC fines serial PIL filer, warns of a 5-year ban

Dhananjay Mahapatra, December 8, 2018: The Times of India

The Supreme Court slapped Rs 50,000 cost on serial PIL filer, advocate M L Sharma, after the lawyer ignored its earlier warnings and filed another one accusing finance minister Arun Jaitley of attempting to “plunder RBI’s capital reserves”.

Making startling allegations in PILs without supporting documents and apologising quickly when caught by the court comes easy to Sharma, who has peppered the SC and the Delhi HC with over 100 petitions in the last decade. The court has reserved its verdict on several, including one by him, challenging the Rafale deal.

On Friday, Sharma patiently waited for his PIL to be called for hearing. The moment he stood up, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked, “You cannot be permitted to indulge in such misadventure. Every second day you file a PIL. And now, you have named the finance minister in your PIL and seek to restrain him from ‘plundering the RBI’s capital reserves to make up for the NPAs of public sector banks’?

“The day has come to ban you for five years from filing any PIL...,” he added.


Misuse can potentially stall investments: SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra, PIL misuse can potentially stall investments: SC, October 28, 2017: The Times of India

The Supreme Court slammed a Gujarat Congress MLA for filing a PIL challenging the terms and conditions of land allotment to an MNC for constructing state-of-the-art sports complexes in the state long after the project's completion, and said such misuse of PILs could potentially stall investments in India.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud rejected the appeal filed by Babubhai Meghaji Shah against the Gujarat high court's decision to reject his PIL. In the petition, Shah had questioned the state government's decision to allot land in Ahmedabad to SE TransStadia for the construction of a sports complex that could be converted from an outdoor stadium to an indoor one in six minutes.

Appearing for Shah, senior advocate C U Singh said according to the valuation of the land by the revenue department, the state should have got Rs 4 crore as annual lease rent, but the government asked for Rs 25 lakh as rent per year. “The petitioner is not against the stadium but it is not late to recover market rent from the allotted land,“ he said.

The MNC, through senior advocate Harish Salve, point ed out that the agreement be tween the state government and SE TransStadia, which had signed the MoU in 2009 at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, provided that the MNC would utilise 2% of its annual gross revenue or Rs 2 crore, which ever was higher, each year for development of sports in the state. He said the agreement was to build sports complex es on the `hub-and-spoke' model -Ahmedabad was to have the largest complex, with smaller ones at Vadoda ra, Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar, sh G Bhavnagar and Bhuj to help scout for talent, pro vide them training facil ities and organise tour naments. Salve said the project was completed and several tourna ments were held.

Questioning Shah's Questioning Shah's PIL, the bench said, “How far can courts go?

PILs were devised as a mode to address the grievances of the poor and un derprivileged who had no access to justice. But now it has gone on to investigate scams and many other fields. Now, it is used to question whether there should be a sports facility or not. You are a political personality , yet you file a PIL. The project was announced after the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. Were you not aware then? Why was the PIL filed after the completion of the project?“ The bench added, “Investors come to build infrastructure with an assured return on their investment. If we interfere in the project after its completion, tell us how will a state attract investment?“ It dismissed the petition.

PILs being misused, time to revisit the concept: SC

AmitAnand Choudhary, PILs being misused, time to revisit the concept, says SC, November 25, 2017: The Times of India

Politician Slammed For Frivolous Petition, Fined ₹1 Lakh

Expressing concern over misuse of Public Interest Litigation, the Supreme Court said it is high time to revisit the concept as court proceedings were being abused in the name of public interest for publicity and political gains.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan got furious while hearing a petition seeking NIA/CBI probe into an incident of 2015 when a dais being prepared for the Prime Minister to address the public fell in Raipur in Chhattisgarh. The petitioner, Chhattisgarhi Samaj Party, is a registered political party and approached the Supreme Court after its plea was rejected by the HC which also imposed a cost of Rs 25,000.

Undeterred by the adverse order of HC, the petitioner moved the apex court for independent probe and also made the Prime Minister’s Office a party in the case. It is apparent that the dome in question, which was being erected after incurring a huge expenditure, was of low quality ... corrupt and illegal means were adopted by the officials of the state government and since it relates to the safety and security of the PM, this matter may be directed to be investigated, the petitioner said.

As it came up for hearing, the bench admonished the petitioner for filing frivolous petition to get political mileage and slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh, to be deposited in the court. The court got enraged when the petitioner’s counsel started arguing the case on merit.

“Time has come when the court should revisit the concept of PIL. How can a political party file petition two years after the incident. It is an utter abuse of PIL for getting political mileage. How can a party have audacity to approach court with such frivolous petition. PIL is not meant for these things,” the bench said while imposing the cost on the petitioner.

In another case, the SC refused to entertain a PIL filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy challenging the Centre’s recent policy guidelines on grant of security clearances to companies, saying a PIL against a policy decision cannot be entertained.

A bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said the PIL jurisdiction is “meant for the poor”.

PIL was a revolutionary concept aimed at “extending its long arm of sympathy to the poor, the ignorant, the oppressed and the needy whose fundamental rights are infringed and violated and whose grievances go unnoticed, unrepresented and unheard”. This led to the dismantling of the traditional concept of locus standi and the court could be approached by any person.

In another case, The SC refused to entertain a PIL filed by Subramanian Swamy challenging the Centre’s recent policy guidelines on grant of security clearances to companies,

2018: ‘being brazenly misused for publicity/ to settle scores’

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Strong Tool Misused By Vested Interests: Top Court, April 20, 2018: The Times of India


Dismissing pleas seeking a probe into judge B H Loya’s death as an attempt to browbeat the judiciary, the Supreme Court said on Thursday that public interest litigation (PIL), which was devised by the apex court in 1984 to give succour to the marginalised and oppressed, was now being brazenly misused to seek publicity or to settle business and political rivalry.

Identifying Bandua Mukti Morcha case judgment in 1984 as laying the foundation for creation of public interest jurisdiction of constitutional courts, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said: “The hallmark of a public interest petition is that a citizen may approach the court to ventilate grievance of a person or class of persons who are unable to pursue their rights. Over time, public interest litigation has become a powerful instrument to preserve rule of law and to ensure accountability and transparency within structures of governance.”

The court said that over the years, PILs had been “brazenly misutilised for personal agenda”.

“At one end of that spectrum are those cases where public interest petitions are motivated by a desire to seek publicity. At the other end of the spectrum are petitions which have been instituted at the behest of business or political rivals to settle scores behind the facade of a public interest litigation. The true face of the litigant behind the facade is seldom unravelled,” said Justice Chandrachud, who wrote the judgment for the bench.

The apex court said that such misuse of PILs posed a grave danger which, if it continued, would seriously denude the efficacy of the judicial system. It would detract the courts from devoting time and resources to cases which legitimately required attention. “Worse still, such petitions pose a grave danger to the credibility of the judicial process,” Justice Chandrachud said.

“This has the propensity of endangering the credibility of other institutions and undermining public faith in democracy and rule of law. This will happen when the agency of the court is utilised to settle extra-judicial scores. Business rivalries have to be resolved in a competitive market for goods and services. Political rivalries have to be resolved in the great hall of democracy when the electorate votes its representatives in and out of office,” he said.

The apex court said that misuse of PILs was a matter of serious concern at a time when the judiciary was burdened with monstrous case pendency. “Frivolous or motivated petitions, ostensibly invoking public interest, detract from the time and attention which courts must devote to genuine causes. This court has a long list of pending cases where the personal liberty of citizens is involved,” it said.

“Those who await trial or the resolution of appeals against orders of conviction have a legitimate expectation of early justice. It is a travesty of justice for the resources of the legal system to be consumed by an avalanche of misdirected petitions purportedly filed in the public interest which, upon due scrutiny, are found to promote a personal, business or political agenda. This has spawned an industry of vested interests in litigation,” it added.

SC imposes Rs 5 lakh fine

Amit Anand Choudhary, June 11, 2020: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: A "social worker' seeking court's direction to ban sale and use of Coca Cola and Thums Up ended up paying fine of Rs five lakhs as the Supreme Court imposed the cost on him for misusing PIL for extraneous reasons. A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi questioned the petitioner for targeting only two brands of the cold drinks in his petition. It also said that the PIL has been filed by Umedsinh P Chavda without having scientific and technical knowledge on the issue.

Chavda alleged that the soft drinks are detrimental to health and their sale and consumption be banned.

"The petition has been filed without the petitioner having any technical knowledge on the subject. The source of his assertions has not been substantiated. No justification or explanation is forthcoming during the submissions on why two specific brands in particular are chosen to be the target of the proceedings," the bench said. The court said that the petition has been filed for extraneous reasons and it is a misuse of PIL.

"We have come to the conclusion that invocation of the jurisdiction under Article 32 is not a bona fide recourse to the jurisdiction in a public interest litigation. Consequently, besides dismissing the petition an order directing the imposition of exemplary costs is necessary," the bench said and directed him to deposit Rs five lakhs in registry within a month.


Top 5 SC judges, not just CJI, will hear PILs/ 2019

June 28, 2019: The Times of India

Top 5 SC judges, not just CJI, will hear PILs now

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court has framed a new roster for allocation of cases to different judges under which ‘letter petitions’ and PILs will be listed before the top five judges, including the CJI.

Unlike the roster framed last year during the tenure of then CJI Dipak Misra, Public Interest Litigation cases will not remain within the exclusive domain of the CJI’s court and the next four senior judges — Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and Rohinton Nariman — may hear such cases. However, the CJI will decide whether the matter should be listed before him or should be assigned to other judges.

The new roster, which lists subject/category-wise distribution of matters among all 15 benches, will come into effect from July 1. As per the roster put out in public domain, the CJI will hear PILs, besides cases related to elections, crime, social justice and appointment of constitutional functionaries. The CJI will also hear matters relating to company law, MRTP (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices), Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), Sebi, IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority) and contempt of court.

Source of funding litigation

Delhi HC: Source of funding litigation is relevant

The Times of India Apr 06 2015

Abhinav Garg

Show source of PIL funding: HC

In an unusual move, the Delhi high court has asked a lawyer to place his source of funding for every PIL either filed by him or where he has appeared on behalf of any petitioner. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked advocate Gaurav Bansal to “file an affidavit which should disclose the source of funding for all the (public interest litigation) PILs which he is preferring either in his own name or as an advocate for other parties“.

The bench has of late been taking a very strict stand while entertaining PILs and has on many occasions pulled up petitioners for “trying to settle private scores“ by using the court as a platform. But even by its tough standards, the court's decision to ask for funding source of a lawyer caught everyone by surprise. Bansal is representing NGO MediaWatch-India, which has filed a PIL against the Centre and six private DTH operators, claiming these indulge in “illegal and exploitative practices“ by carrying 24x7 ads and even FM radio on their channels.

In December last year, the high court had issued a notice to the ministry of information and broadcasting, and the DTH operators on the PIL, seeking an answer to the allegations.

When the next hearing took When the next hearing took place earlier this month, one of the operators--Tata Sky--highlighted before the bench that the NGO and Bansal were hiding all the facts. While the petitioners alleged their complaint to TRAI in April 2014 was ignored, TRAI circulated a consultation paper on the topic in August and sent its recommendations to the government.

On being confronted by the court, Bansal, whose wife incidentally is secretary of the NGO, maintained that all parties must be directed to file an affidavit on the merits of the case, alleging that the business house is trying to deflect the main issue. Howev er, the court was not impressed and pointed out it wouldn't have issued a notice last year had it known these facts.

“A petitioner under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and more so a petitioner in a petition filed in public interest has to disclose all material facts and if does not do so runs the risk of the petition being dismissed on this ground only and cannot insist on this court nevertheless enquiring into the matter in pub lic interest in his petition. We cannot be unmindful of the rampant misuse of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and which has already been noticed by the Supreme Court and this court,“ the court observed.

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