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Kerala High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Hrishikesh Roy, C.J. and A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, J. dismissed a PIL for being frivolous in nature and further explaining the concept and seriousness of misuse of public interest litigations by citing two prominent Supreme Court Judgments, i.e. State of Uttaranchal v. Balwant Singh Chaufal, (2010) 3 SCC 402 and Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India, (2018) 6 SCC 72.

Now, coming onto the issue raised by the petitioner, the public interest litigation was based on a newspaper report which alleged that there was security lapse in the conduct of banking operation by SBI. The stated petition was filed against State Bank of India and their General Manager. Petitioner basing his allegation on the newspaper report further stated that “there are serious lapses by the Bank and this has resulted in customer data leakage and disruption of online services.” Petitioner sought investigation and further direction to General Manager, SBI to remit Rs 5 crores to Kerala State Legal Services Authority.

Respondents denied the allegations and asserted that customers details are fully secure in the servers maintained by SBI, and there are enough inbuilt safeguards in the conveyance of data, for the usual banking transactions.

Therefore, the High Court noted and further stated that the PIL mechanism is being misutilised by the litigant since the material has not been verified on the basis of which the public interest litigation was filed.

The Court cited the case of State of Uttaranchal v. Balwant Singh, (2010) 3 SCC 402, in which various guidelines were issued in order to preserve the purity and sanctity of the Public Interest Litigations. Another case cited was of Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India, (2018) 6 SCC 72, where the Supreme Court once again addressed the issue and stated that:

“Misuse of public interest litigation is a serious matter of concern for the judicial process. Frivolous or motivated petitions, ostensibly invoking the public interests detract from time and attention which courts must devote to genuine causes.”

High Court dismissed the petition with costs by explaining the severity of the time of the Court and seriousness of the judicial process. [Shaheer Ali v. SBI, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2048, decided on 25-06-2019]