Kerala High Court: T.R. Ravi, J., held that draft stipulation could not be accepted for the challenge as the same is premature to be assailed by the Public Interest Litigation.

The instant PIL was filed to assail a few regulatory measures initiated by the State of Kerala concerning Lakshadweep Islands. The case of petitioner was that the impugned regulations were motivated by ulterior motive of destroying the traditional life, culture, etc. of the inhabitants of the island. The petitioner alleged that the steps initiated by the State through impugned regulations were illegal and violative of Articles 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

Noticeably, the petitioner never had any direct participation or concern with the people, affairs, or administration of Lakshadweep Island, and had made sweeping allegations that the he was interested about the issues faced by the public at large and was a social worker. The Bench noticed that at the present stage the impugned notifications were at either preliminary stage or drafts were kept in public domain inviting suggestion, views etc., from Islanders. The writ prayer referred to Exts.P3 to P7. Ext.P3 was a Circular issued by the Assistant Director (Disaster Management) stipulating the modalities to be followed by persons or travelers interested in visiting Lakshadweep island. The apprehension expressed by the petitioner on Ext.P3 was held to be misconceived and unavailable as the challenge to that circular had been rejected in by an earlier order.

Ext.P4 was a notification issued eliciting public opinion on the draft regulation appended to the said Notification; the petitioner had assailed the same contending that if the Draft Rules were implemented, nobody could challenge it later, as it gave immense power to the State. The Bench opined that,

“Examination of legality of draft regulation which is in the active consideration of respondent is completely premature.”

Regarding the Exts.P5 and P6 which were related to discontinuation of temporary staff engaged by the administration in a few facilities, the Bench stated that,

“Championing cause concerning service matters by way of PIL is impermissible and also unavailable on the ground that the petitioner lacked the locus to question the legality of Exts.P5 and P6.

Noticing that the Ext.P7 stipulated the procedure to be followed for auctioning livestock in Lakshadweep islands, the Bench held that the petitioner in the name of PIL could not expand the consideration with inchoate knowledge about the inhabitants of the island and the island.  In other words, it was stated that Ext.P8 was also a draft and it could not be treated as regulation that had come into force upon receiving the assent of the President. Hence, every prayer made by the petitioner was unavailable or premature and entertaining the prayers by way of PIL was not warranted as the impugned exhibits were at the stage of confabulation.

Moreover, holding that though the prayers was one for mandamus/certiorari still it had the effect of acting as writ of prohibition against the State from discharging the function or the duty conferred on them by the Constitution. The draft stipulation, therefore, could not be accepted for challenge in the PIL. Accordingly, holding that the petitioner had not satisfied his standing vis-à-vis the affairs of Lakshadweep island to entertain the PIL and that the same was premature. Hence, the same was dismissed.[Sajesh N. T.  v. State of Kerala, WP(C) NO. 11321 of 2021, decided on 15-06-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner: Adv. N.Sasidharan Unnithan

For the Respondent: T.P.Sajan

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