Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Pradeep Nandrajog, CJ. and G R Moolchandani, J., disposed of writ petitions against the misuse of public money for political agendas.

A PIL was filed to spouse a public cause claiming the misuse of public money by the respondent in order to cater their political motives during the Gaurav Yatra i.e direct contact with the voters by means of road-shows during which the Hon’ble Chief Minister would address public meetings for which tent, sound system and stage would be provided by the Public Works Department.

The respondents contended that whenever the Chief Minister travels (official/personal) protocol and security arrangements were to be borne by the State and thus it cannot be given the colour of expenditure incurred towards a political rally and additionally taking advantage of the presence of the Chief Minister, the respondent was organizing exhibitions to educate the general mass regarding social welfare schemes of the respondent.

Taking into consideration Common Cause v. Union of India, (2014) 6 SCC 552 and Common Cause v. Union of India, W.P (Civil) No.13 of 2003, order dated 13-05-2015 wherein it was held that, “Under the garb of communicating with the people, undue political advantage and mileage was sought to be achieved by personifying individuals and crediting them as being responsible for various Government achievements”; the High Court concluded by saying that, so intermingled are the State-sponsored d State-financed programmes with the Gaurav Yatra that it would be impossible to segregate one from the other. It is trite that the impact of an act was to be understood from the viewpoint of a mythical common man because to him if during the Gaurav Yatra, the Chief Minister inaugurates public functions, the understanding would be the glorification of the political party and not of the respondent.

It was declared by the Court that henceforth no public functions sponsored and financed by the state funds would be held during Gaurav Yatra. [Sawai Singh v. State of Rajasthan, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 1746, order dated 05-09-2018]