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'Trigger Happy Filing' Of 'Half Baked Petitions' Merely On The Basis Of Newspaper Reports Should Be Discouraged, Says Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
27 Oct 2021 7:25 AM GMT
Trigger Happy Filing Of Half Baked Petitions Merely On The Basis Of Newspaper Reports Should Be Discouraged, Says Supreme Court
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Individuals should not file half ­baked petitions merely on a few newspaper reports, the Supreme Court remarked taking note of 'the quality of some of the petitions filed' in Pegasus matter.The CJI NV Ramana led bench observed that such an exercise, far from helping the cause espoused by the individual filing the petition, is often detrimental to the cause itself. Such...

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Individuals should not file half ­baked petitions merely on a few newspaper reports, the Supreme Court remarked taking note of 'the quality of some of the petitions filed' in Pegasus matter.

The CJI NV Ramana led bench observed that such an exercise, far from helping the cause espoused by the individual filing the petition, is often detrimental to the cause itself. Such 'trigger happy filing' of petitions must be discouraged, the court added.

Newspaper reports, in and of themselves, should not in the ordinary course be taken to be ready­made pleadings that may be filed in Court, the bench also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli reiterated. The court clarified that it does not meant that the news agencies are not trusted by the Court

The court, however, noted that the allegations made in these petitions pertain to matters about which ordinary citizens would  not have information except for the investigating reporting done by news agencies. Further, the court considered the cases since various other petitions were filed including by individuals who were purportedly victims of the alleged Pegasus spyware attack.

During the hearing itself, the bench had pulled up Advocate ML Sharma over the PIL filed by him seeking probe into the Pegasus snooping controversy. " Except newspaper cuttings, what is there in your petition. What purpose you have filed the petition for? You want us to collect the material and argue your case? This is not the way of filing a PIL. We also read newspapers", CJI had expressed displeasure at his PIL.

In its judgment, the court recorded thus:

42. Initially, this Court was not satisfied with the Writ Petitions that were filed as the same were completely reliant only upon certain newspaper reports. This Court has generally attempted to discourage Writ Petitions, particularly Public Interest Litigations, which are based entirely on newspaper reports without any additional steps taken by the Petitioner

Trigger happy filing needs to be discouraged

The bench then referred to the decision in Rohit Pandey v. Union of India, (2005) 13 SCC 702, in which the filing of PILs on the basis of news paper reports was criticized. The court, therefore, observed:

43. While we understand that the allegations made in these petitions pertain to matters about which ordinary citizens would 27 not have information except for the investigating reporting done by news agencies, looking to the quality of some of the petitions filed, we are constrained to observe that individuals should not file half-­baked petitions merely on a few newspaper reports. Such an exercise, far from helping the cause espoused by the individual filing the petition, is often detrimental to the cause itself. This is because the Court will not have proper assistance in the matter, with the burden to even determine preliminary facts being left to the Court. It is for this reason that trigger happy filing of such petitions in Courts, and more particularly in this Court which is to be the final adjudicatory body in the country, needs to be discouraged. 


Should not be taken to mean that the news agencies are not trusted by the Court

The court clarified that this should not be taken to mean that the news agencies are not trusted by the Court. It said:

This should not be taken to mean that the news agencies are not trusted by the Court, but to emphasize the role that each pillar of democracy occupies in the polity. News agencies report facts and bring to light issues which might otherwise not be publicly known. These may then become the basis for further action taken by an active and concerned civil society, as well as for any subsequent filings made in Courts. But newspaper reports, in and of themselves, should not in the ordinary course be taken to be ready­made pleadings that may be filed in Court.but to emphasize the role that each pillar of democracy occupies in the polity. News agencies report facts and bring to light issues which might otherwise not be publicly known. These may then become the basis for further action taken by an active and concerned civil society, as well as for any subsequent filings made in Courts. But newspaper reports, in and of themselves, should not in the ordinary course be taken to be ready­made pleadings that may be filed in Court.


Case name and Citation : Manohar Lal Sharma vs Union of India | LL 2021 SC 600

Case no. and Date: WP(Crl) 314 OF 2021 | 27 October 2021

Coram: CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant, Hima Kohli









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