Observing that people should not rush to courts to file cases in profusion under the garb of public interest, the Bombay High Court has imposed a fine of Rs. 25000 on a woman for filing a “frivolous” public interest litigation which espouses private interests.
A division bench of justices V M Kanade and M S Sonak dismissed a PIL filed by Ujwala Patil, who claims to be the President of Mumbai Division of Maharashtra Machhimar Kruti Samiti, challenging a scheme of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. She alleged that the scheme was approved without there being consent of over 70 per cent of the slum dwellers.
The bench noted that prima facie it was not a genuine PIL as it was filed soon after several writ petitions and applications of the slum dwellers against the scheme were rejected by the high court.
“People must not rush to courts to file cases in profusion under the attractive name of public interest. They must inspire confidence in courts and amongst the public. Time has come to weed out the petitions, which though titled as public interest litigations are in essence something else,” the court said citing several judgements of the Supreme Court.
“It is shocking to note that the courts are flooded with large number of so-called public interest litigations. The parameters of public interest litigation have been indicated in large number of cases, yet, unmindful to the real intentions, objectives, courts are entertaining such petitions and wasting valuable judicial time, which could be otherwise utilised for disposal of genuine cases,” the bench said.
The court noted that courts have to filter out such frivolous petitions and dismiss them with costs so that the “message goes in the right direction that petitions filed with oblique motive do not have an approval of the court.”
The bench directed Patil to deposit within four weeks Rs. 25,000 with the high court registry, which shall then transfer the amount to the Tata Cancer Research Centre.
Senior counsel Praveen Samdani, appearing for the developer of the project, told the court that construction was at the fag end and some of the slum dwellers have been alloted houses in the building.