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High court warns against PIL for gains

Calcutta High Court Chief Justice A.K. Mathur stated on Friday that courts would not entertain public interest litigations (PIL) sponsored by individuals, for personal gains.

The chief justice said the court would take stern action against people — appointed by businessmen or any industrial community — coming to court either with a PIL or with an allegation of environmental pollution against a particular company.

“I will impose heavy penalty on such litigants by way of cost,” he observed, during the hearing of a PIL filed by a Behala resident. The petitioner had opposed the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s (CMC) decision of allowing a private entrepreneur to build a market-cum-shopping complex on the EM Bypass. He contended that the market complex would disturb the ecological balance of the area.

Elucidating a recent apex court observation on the issue, Chief Justice Mathur said: “The Supreme Court has recently taken note of such litigation and directed the subordinate courts of the country not to allow litigants to move such cases.”

“The PIL 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 PIL, ugly private malice, vested interest and/or publicity-seeking is not lurking,” he said, quoting a division bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justice Doraiswamy Raju and Justice Arijit Pasayat.

CMC lawyer Aloke Ghosh supported Chief Justice Mathur’s opinion during the hearing of the PIL and said a string of development work had been suspended due to court injunctions. Ghosh said the authorities concerned would benefit if the courts did not entertain such “fake” PILs.

According to some senior advocates, the trend of filing cases for business profits is on the rise. “Some businessmen are maintaining special wings to file cases and obtain orders against their rivals. In most of these cases, the person appointed by them brings charges of violation of environmental norms against the rival camp,” the lawyers explained.

“The spate of motivated PILs is hampering the pace of genuine cases. Courts are sometimes rejecting PILs that deserve a hearing, thinking that they are being moved for business gains. The Supreme Court’s observation is absolutely correct,” said senior advocate Supradip Roy.

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