The Kerala High Court has held that a Public Interest Litigation filed by an unregistered body is not maintainable.
The bench of the Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly dismissed a PIL filed by "Prathyasa Mental Health Counselling forum". The forum had challenged a notification issued by the Transport Department, Government of Kerala relaxing the lock-down restrictions and permitting to carry passengers in all the seats available in the stage carriages.
Responding to the query of the bench as to the maintainability of a public interest litigation by an unregistered body, the counsel for the petitioner relied on the judgment in Swaraj Abhiyan - (I) v. Union of India.
However, the bench observed that there is no declaration of law under Article 141 of the Constitution of India, that any unregistered body can file a writ petition. The Court also examined some other judgments cited by the counsel in this regard.
The Petitioner also sought to place reliance on Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee & Anr. v. C.K.Rajan (2003) 7 SCC 546, to contend that writ petition under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution of India can be filed by any person interested in the welfare of people, who is in an disadvantaged position.
Dismissing this contention as well, the bench said:
"In the light of the decisions of the Courts in India, on the law of precedents, with due respect, Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee's case (cited supra) cannot be said to have laid down a law on the issue of maintainability of a Public Interest Litigation or even a writ petition by an unregistered body. Even in Swaraj Abhiyan's case (cited supra), there was no specific issue as to whether an unregistered body can maintain a writ petition or not. Reliance on Swaraj Abhiyan's case (cited supra) would not support the petitioner. 'Person' refers to human being. 'Jurstic person' refers to a body recognized by the law as being entitled to rights and duties in the same way as a natural or human person. In the case on hand, Prathyasa Mental Health Counselling forum, through its Programme Co-ordinator, an unregistered body does not fall within the definition of juristic person. . On an analysis of law relating to precedents, binding effect of interim orders and maintainability of filing a writ petition by an unregistered body, and the facts and circumstances of this case, we are of the view that instant writ petition filed as Public Interest Litigation by an unregistered body viz., Prathyasa Mental Health Counselling forum, through its Programme Co-ordinator, is not maintainable."
Case no.: WP(C).No.11686 OF 2020Case name: PRATHYASA MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELLING FORUM vs. STATE OF KERALACoram: Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. ChalyCounsel: Advocates SAJU JAKOB and ANIL KUMAR SREEDHARAN
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