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Public Interest Litigation Is Not A Pill Or Panacea For All Wrongs And Can't Be Used For Suspicious Products Of Mischief: HP HC [Read Order]

Sparsh Upadhyay
12 Aug 2020 5:16 AM GMT
Public Interest Litigation Is Not A Pill Or Panacea For All Wrongs And Cant Be Used For Suspicious Products Of Mischief: HP HC [Read Order]
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The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Wednesday (05th August) took up a plea seeking the postponement of the 'HP Subordinate Allied Services (Main) Examination-2019' to any subsequent dates, post normalization of COVID-19 crisis.

[Note: The said examination was conducted on 6th (Thursday) and 7th (Friday) August at various examination centres established in Shimla, Mandi and Dharamshala.]

A bench comprising Justices Tarlok Singh Chauhan & Jyotsna Rewal Dua made strong observations against the plea filed by the petitioner (named Himanshu) who claimed to have filed the petition as Pro Bono Publico.

While noting that the pleas raised were absolutely fallacious, the bench remarked,

"…the attractive brand name of public interest litigation cannot be used for suspicious products of mischief. It has to be aimed at redressal of genuine public wrong or public injury and not publicity-oriented or founded on personal vendetta or private motive. The process of the Court cannot be abused for oblique considerations by masked phantoms who monitor at times from behind."

In the present case, the court while examining the credentials of the petitioner noted that the petitioner was neither a candidate nor had any concern with the examination in question.

The court observed that "even as per the averments made in the petition, there are as many as 2331 candidates who would be taking the examination in question and none of such candidates, who are otherwise well educated and qualified, had approached the Court for postponing the examination in question." (emphasis supplied)

Further, it was also made clear by the court that the mere fact that the petitioner claims himself to be the resident of the State of Himachal Pradesh will also not furnish him a cause of action for grant of the reliefs as sought for in the said petition for the simple reason that the petitioner himself claims to have filed this petition on behalf of those candidates, who were to take the examination.

The order stated,

"The common rule of locus-standi in such cases is relaxed so as to enable the Court to look into the grievances complained of on behalf of the poor, deprive, deprivation, illiterate and the disabled and who cannot vindicate the legal wrong or legal injury caused to them for any violation of any constitutional or legal right. But, then while protecting the rights of the people from being violated in any manner, utmost care has to be taken that the Court does not transgress its jurisdiction nor does it entertain petitions which are motivated.

In the present case, as a last ditch effort, the learned Counsel for the petitioner also submitted before the bench that the petition had been filed on behalf of the candidates but their names have intentionally not been disclosed or else the respondent No. 1 (Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission) would be vindictive towards such candidates. However, the court dismissed this argument as well.

The Court reiterated the fact that the candidates are well educated and qualified and if aggrieved, they would have themselves approached the court directly and would not have set up the petitioner as their stooge.

Further, highlighting the purpose of a PIL, the court remarked

"Public interest litigation is not a pill or panacea for all wrongs. It is essentially meant to protect the basic human rights of the weak and disadvantaged. Public interest litigation 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 public interest, ugly private malice, vested interest and/or public interest seeking is not lurking."

The court also clarified that Public Interest Litigation has to be used as an effective weapon in the armoury of law for delivering justice to the citizens. The courts must do justice by the promotion of good faith and prevent the law from crafty invasions.

The bench reminded itself that the court must maintain social balance by interfering for the sake of justice and refuse to entertain where it is against the social justice and the public good.

Lastly, the bench noted that the petition is nothing but a publicity oriented petition and not a Public Interest Litigation and the same was accordingly dismissed with costs of Rs.10,000/- to be paid to the 'H.P. High Court Advocates' Welfare Association'.

Case Details:

Case Title: Himanshu v. Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission & Ors.

Case No.: CWPIL NO. 6 of 2020

Quorum: Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan & Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua

Appearance: Advocate Akshay Agarwal & Advocate Tejasvi Verma (for the Petitioner); Advocate Vikrant Thakur (for the respondent No. 1); Advocate General Ashok Sharma (for respondent No. 2); Deputy Advocate General Seema Sharma (for respondent No. 3).

Click Here To Download Order

[Read Order]



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