Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of S.R. Brahmbhatt and A.P. Thaker, JJ. dismissed a PIL filed by the petitioner.

The applicant filed a PIL in the Court and the following was prayed for:

  • The Court should declare the action of the respondent authorities in proposing the implementation of the slum rehabilitation scheme for the slum-dwellers of Rathod Vas Village as unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction to the extent the same proposes shifting of location that too on payment of amount price under the JNURM BSUP Scheme.
  • Respondents must be directed to propose a slum housing project or allot them houses in the housing project situated in the closest proximity under the slum rehabilitation scheme without mandating any payment from the slum dwellers as prescribed under the Slum Rehabilitation Act and Slum Policies.
  • Respondent must be directed to pay the rent to the slum-dwellers for the inter-magnum period of their relocation from the slums till the completion and allotment of houses.

On these grounds the petitioner wanted the Court to pass an order restraining the respondent authorities from evicting the slum-dwellers.

The contentions of the petitioner were that the respondents did not have the right to uproot and shift the slum dwellers irrespective of they being registered as slum dwellers or not as per the Gujarat Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Re-development) Act, 1973. Secondly, the scheme under which the rehabilitation is offered also requires payment by the beneficiary, which also is not in accordance with the scheme, as while offering rehabilitation there ought not to have been any requirement of payment on the part of the occupant.

The respondent argued that the very petition was ill-conceived and must be dismissed as the petitioner created an undue hurdle in the way of the beneficiary for whom the petition is filed. Secondly, the petitioner had basically pleaded for the encroachment surrounding Vadsar Pond. They spoke about the rights of the beneficiary party to seek rehabilitation at a place of choice with payment of a minimum amount.

The Court took all the arguments into consideration and instructed the petitioner to apply to the Corporation for grant of alternative accommodation in accordance with the law and disposed of the petition.[Bhaliya Bhikhabhai Ramjibhai v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 1491, decided on 25-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Goverdhan Bardhar and Mohammad Rafiq, JJ. disposed of a Public Interest Litigation, directing the specialized authorities to take necessary actions against the respondents to prevent encroachment over the pasture land of the petitioners.

In the instant case, the Counsel representing the Petitioners, Rakesh Kumar contended that there has been an unauthorized intrusion in the pasture land of the petitioners, and placing reliance on the Supreme Court Judgment, Jagpal Singh v. State of Punjab, (2011) 11 SCC 396, it submitted that the Apex Court had directed the State Governments to prepare a scheme for eviction of illegal/unauthorized occupants.

It was also pointed out that in the case of Jagdish Prasad Meena v. State of Rajasthan, D.B. Civil Writ Petition (PIL) No. 10819/2018, the Rajasthan High Court had taken note of the fact that a large number of PIL applications were being filed with regard to encroachment of pasture lands, hence it directed the Chief Secretary of the State to devise a permanent mechanism for such issues whereby the general public can lodge their complaints/representations to the specifically designated Public Land Protection Cell (PLPC). The PLPC shall get such complaints/representations enquired into by deputing concerned Sub Divisional Officer/Tehsildar/Naib Tehsildar so as to verify the authenticity of such encroachments. Upon verifying of such encroachments, if the Cell finds substance in the allegations, appropriate steps shall be taken against such trespassers and the Cell shall decide by passing a speaking order informing the necessary action taken.

Therefore, the High Court took note of the above decisions and directed the petitioners to file a detailed representation and approach the Sub-Divisional Officer along with the copy of the order. It also directed the authorities to dispose of the complaints/representations within a period of three months from the date of filing of the representation.[Aam Janta Village Saroli v. State Of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 1092, decided on 01-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Govind Mathur, CJ and Saurabh Shaym Shamshery, J. ordered the administration of Allahabad University to come up with a plan to stop rampant criminal activities in its campus.

The incident of the brutal killing of a young boy at the hostel of Allahabad University, Prayagraj had been published with prominence in all the newspapers. The facts stated in newspapers reflected lawlessness existing on the campus of Allahabad University. The campus under the control of the University had become shelter homes for the criminals and the entire campus had been converted by them as a playground for their criminal deeds. The University administration appeared to be ignorant and was not taking any action to prevent the prevailing circumstances. It was also brought to notice that a huge number of criminals were staying in the different hostels under the control of the University though they were not regular students and even the citizens of that area were not feeling safe and protected by the law maintaining authorities. Thus, the atmosphere of fear due to the criminal activities in the university and the area nearby resulted in cognizance of the same to be taken by Court in the form of Public Interest Litigation.

The Court directed the Registrar of the Allahabad University, Senior Superintendent of Police, Prayagraj and the District Magistrate, Prayagraj to remain personally present before the Court. The Court observed that in recent years there had been a spurt in criminal activities on the campus and in the hostels of the Allahabad University. The affidavits filed by the district administration revealed a shocking state of affairs of the University. It was stated that during the raids in the hostel’s huge amount of arms and ammunition had been found. In view of the facts revealed in the affidavits, the Court directed the Vice-Chancellor of the University to hold a meeting with district administration and prepare a plan/proposal to eradicate anti-social and criminal activities in the campus and hostels of the Allahabad University. Furthermore, Court added one more aspect in the present Public Interest Litigation by observing that the Court’s experience showed that the election of the Students’ Union in Allahabad University were held in blatant violation of the direction of the Supreme Court given in the case of University of Kerala (1) v. Council of Principals of Colleges in Kerala, (2006) 8 SCC 304, which opined guidelines to be followed in a University election. The Court thus ordered the University to address these issues with the help of district administration and further, the University, as well as the district administration, was directed to file all necessary progress report relating to the steps taken.[In re: Criminal activities in the city of Prayagraj and the incident of murder of an ex-student of Allahabad University at P.C.B. Hostel, Allahabad v. State of Uttar Pradesh, Criminal Writ – PIL No. 4 of 2019, decided on 17-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of S.C. Sharma and Virender Singh, JJ., dismissed the review petition on the ground that no interference was required when there was no error apparent on the face of the record.

A Public Interest Litigation Writ Petition was made by certain persons against the selection in respect of various teaching post which was dismissed by this court on various ground. Thus a review petition was made out of an order passed in a PIL against the certain person being aggrieved by the selection in various teaching post.

T.N. Singh, senior counsel for the petitioner submitted that the matter relating to the appointment was being scrutinised by the Director, Technical Education and, therefore, the judgment delivered by this Court be reviewed.

The Court after referred the judgment of the Supreme Court, relating to the use of the review power of the court which was discussed in the case of Haridas Das v. Usha Rani, (2006) 4 SCC 78 in which it was held that that “a mistake or an error apparent on the face of the record means a mistake or an error which is prima-facie visible and does not require any detail examination” In the present case as petitioner was not able to point out any error apparent on the face of the record, the court decided the case on merit. The court also discussed the scope of interference and limitation of review through the judgment of the Supreme court, Inderchand Jain (dead) v. Motilal, (2009) 14 SCC 663 and held “that re-appreciation of evidence and rehearing of case without there being any error apparent on the face of the record is not permissible in light of provisions as contained under Section 114 and Order 47 Rule 1 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908” Thus, the court dismissed the review petition on the above-mentioned grounds.[Dr Suyog Jhanvar v. Govindram Saksaria Institute of Technology & Science, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 1080, decided on 30-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of L. Narayana Swamy and P.S. Dinesh Kumar, JJ. allowed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) to declare amendment 4 of Karnataka Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2012, as null and void on the grounds of violation of Article 21-A of the Constitution of India.

The Government of Karnataka enacted Karnataka Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules in 2012 (herein Karnataka Act) to implement the provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act passed by the Parliament in 2009 (herein RTE Act). Section 12(2) of the Karnataka Act defined the term ‘school’ as per Section 2(n) of RTE Act, 2009. Under this section, the unaided private schools were envisaged reimbursement as compensation for filling 25 per cent seats for the RTE children from weaker parts of the society. However, on 30-01-2019, the Government of Karnataka enacted an amendment altering the definition of term ‘school’ under Section 12(2) of the Karnataka Act. After this amendment, unaided schools were not required to provide admission to disadvantaged children where there government and unaided schools in the neighborhood. Thereafter, a writ petition was filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India to quash the impugned amendment.

The learned counsels for petitioners, Suman Hedge, Manasi Sharma, and Chethan B, contended that the Amendment was against the RTE Act, as it created an obligation for disadvantaged children to take admission in government schools against their choice. They argued that the parents of poor children didn’t want to send their wards to government schools as they lacked pre-elementary education and they were not English-medium schools. Moreover, they said that issuing of reimbursement to unaided schools was not be considered a burden by Karnataka Government as their total budget including such reimbursement amount was less than the national average of the educational budget. Furthermore, they argued that the amendment that notifies ‘neighborhood principle’ was bad in law. This provision said that within 1 km of the locality of poor children, if there were no private schools and within 3 km, if there was no higher secondary school, then the children had to enroll in the government school situated in their locality.

The learned State counsel for respondents, the Advocate General, Udaya Holla argued that due to the reservation under RTE there had been a tremendous fall in the number government schools as several schools had been shut down over the years. Moreover, a tremendous increase in the number of private schools was witnessed from 2011-12. The State counsel also argued that a heavy burden had been there on the State government and over the years the cost of reimbursement had increased manifold.  He also contended that the ‘neighborhood principle’ was in consonance with the spirit of the RTE Act. It postulated that if there was a government school nearby, the children couldn’t avail the option of going to private schools.

The Court observed that the State government or the local authorities were under the obligation to provide reimbursement to unaided schools for RTE children only if there were no government or government-aided schools in the neighborhood. Reliance was laid upon Unni Krishnan, J.P. v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1993) 1 SCC 645 to hold that reimbursement of expenditure incurred on elementary education of a child was permissible only in the case where the government or aided schools were not available. Hence, the Court declared that the amendment was neither arbitrary nor unconstitutional nor in violation of Article 21-A of the Constitution of India. The Court further said that once the government schools were established then the government need not reimburse the education of RTE children. Therefore, the prayer sought by petitioners was not granted and the PIL was rejected.[Education Rights Trust v. Government of Karnataka, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 567, decided on 31-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of S.C. Sharma and Virendra Singh, JJ. contemplated a petition by way of Public Interest Litigation in 2013 and sought directions to the State for necessary action to control and prevent rabies to the resident by the expanded population of stray dogs in the locality.

The Petitioner/Advocate, Mr Sanjay, submitted that State has not taken proper steps towards the management, control, and prevention of rabies caused via stray dogs and other animals. He further contested that due to the increased population of stray animals in the locality the residents were facing various problems and the safety was at stake. He has tried to highlight such issue via newspaper and requested the State to intervene. He stated that despite having forced to tackle such issues, State was inactive in managing such serious issues of health and hygiene, State cannot deny that such stray animals can bite therefore causing various diseases which are life-threatening.

The Municipal Corporation submitted a detailed action report and mentioned various measures taken such as:-

  1. Enhanced rate of sterilization of stray animals
  2. Anti-rabies vaccines
  3. Public awareness

The Corporation further submitted that, Several representatives of NGOs and officials of Municipal Corporation held Monitoring Committee meeting in 2019, wherein under proposals for deploying separate vehicle for grown-up puppies in zones where sterilization work is complete and establishment of Asara center for treatment of sick and injured dogs were made.

The Court observed that since the petition was filed, various orders have been issued regarding this matter. Court has in previous instances, directed State and Municipal Corporation to file progress report in conformity with Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and Animal Birth Controlled Dogs Rules, 2001. Court has also directed the government hospitals to ensure that the injection in respect to rabies (anti-rabies injection) was given free of cost to all persons in case they approached the government hospitals. It was observed that various action reports were filed on behalf of the government and it was ensured that proper measures were adopted, sterilization was carried out and vaccines were made available in all hospitals.

The Court held Municipal Corporation has taken all possible steps to control the population of stray dogs and its ongoing process. Resultantly, no further orders are required to be passed in the present writ petition. It further directed the Corporation to continue with the sterilization until all strays are sterilized and to start with a campaign for public awareness related to birth and control of strays, it directed State to provide a free supply of rabies vaccines for all aggrieved.[Sanjay v. District Collector, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 855, decided on 09-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Hrishikesh Roy and A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, JJ. was seized of a petition structured as a Public Interest Litigation praying for the following declarations:

  • that the Royal Family of Pandalam does not have any right over the Sabarimala temple;
  • that the Thazhaman Family does not have any Thantric rights over Sabarimala;
  • that the post of Chief Priest in Sabarimala, as well as Malikappuram temples, are open to all qualified persons belonging to Hindu religion; and
  • to issue a writ of mandamus directing the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) to take over ornaments of Lord Ayyappa from the Royal Family of Pandalam.

The Court opined that consideration of the above prayers, as made in the petition, would require determination of many factual aspects which would not be feasible while exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.

It was further observed that the challenge herein related to religious belief and practice and the petitioner had failed to show, even on a prima facie basis, as to how such religious belief and practice should be a matter of court intervention.

In view of the above, the petition was dismissed but the petitioner was granted liberty to establish a factual foundation for his claim before proper forum. [Dr S. Ganapathy v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 5802, decided on 21-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Manjula Chellur, C.J., and M.S. Sonak. J., dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) which was filed against a 20-storey building which was already complete, on the grounds that it was not bonafide and that there was a delay in the institution of the petition.

The Court stated that the PIL should have been filed at the time the building was under construction and not post construction. Court referred to R & M Trust v. Koramangla Residents Vigilance Group, (2005) 3 SCC 91 and applied the doctrine of laches. It held that locus in PIL is a very relevant factor and courts must always inquire into the locus of the person filing it. Further they also observed that PIL should be entertained in very rare cases. Moreover, the Bench stated that delay in the filing of the PIL is a very important factor for the court to exercise it’s extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Consequently, they cannot disturb the rights of the third party interest on account of the delay and the court shall not come to the rescue of a person who is not vigilant enough to look after his own rights.

Dismissing the PIL, the Court observed that it cannot be ruled out that the petitioner has been put up as a proxy by private builder or this petition has been filed to practice extortion; and imposed cost of Rs 50,000 payable to the Legal Services Authority. [Deepak S. Lande v. State of Maharashtra,  2017 SCC OnLine Bom 9289, decided on 17.11.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While dismissing the present petition filed in public interest seeking the writ of mandamus directing the DRDO and Ministry of Defence to prosecute a particular officer, under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the Division Bench of G Rohini, C.J. and RS Endlaw, J., stated that the mechanism of PIL cannot be misused for intra office rivalries, and especially when the authorities concerned are taking reasonable action for the same.

The counsel for the petitioner R. Sathish, in support of his argument that no action is being taken by the concerned authorities on the complaint, placed reliance on Lalita kumari v Government of Uttar Pradesh (2014) 2 SCC 1, contending that the reports submitted by the authorities must be made public. The Court persued the reports of the committee constituted to look into the complaints and, directed the respondents to take the report to its logical conclusion.

The Court relied on Sachidanand Pandey v. State of West Bengal (1987) 2 SCC 295, Chhetriya Pradushan Mukti Sangharsh Samiti v. State of U.P. (1990) 4 SCC 449 and Gurpal Singh v State of Punjab (2005) 5 SCC 136 and stated that the Court has to be careful to see that under the garb of  a PIL no attack is being made to satisfy any personal grudge. The Court reiterated that a PIL cannot be filed in the service matters and disposed the petition by emphasising that PIL should not be used as a weapon to defend any private malice. [Prabhu Dayal Dandriyal v Union of India, 2015 SCC Online Del 14134 decided on 17-12-2015]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While dismissing a petition filed in public interest seeking a direction to the respondent to prohibit cow slaughtering and make arrangements to maximise environmental and economic benefits from the cow to mankind, a bench of G Rohini CJ and R.S. Endlaw J. stated that the issue of ban on slaughter of cows is beyond the domain of judicial decision making and is a policy matter in which the courts under the doctrine of separation of powers are not entitled to transgress.

The Court referred Mohd. Hanif Quareshi v. State of Bihar AIR 1958 SC 731, Manubhai Nandlal Amorsey v. Popatlal Manilal Joshi (1969) 1 SCC 372 and State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat (2005) 8 SCC 534 and stated that the Legislature whenever had deemed necessary has framed appropriate laws in this regard and challenge thereto has also been considered by the Court.

The Court relied on Bal Ram Bali v. Union of India, (2007) 6 SCC 805 where it was held that the Court cannot issue any direction for ban on slaughter of cows as it is a matter of policy on which decision has to be taken by the government, and a complete ban can only be imposed by enactment of an appropriate legislation by the legislature in this regard. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition. [Sadh Foundation v. Union of India, 2015 SCC Online Del 14138, decided on 17-12-2015].

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: On a petition filed by a public spirited person before this Court challenging that the provisions of Section 494 IPC are discriminatory on the ground of religion, a division bench of Ashok Bhushan and A.M. Shaffique JJ held that Section 494 IPC does not discriminate between Hindu/ Muslim/ Christian and can be proceeded against any citizen who commits the offence of bigamy irrespective of his/her personal law, provided that ingredients of Section 494 are made out.

In the instant case, looking at the increasing instances where culpable bigamous marriages have been resorted to harass and dupe innocent ladies in the name of personal law, a public spirited person filed a petition seeking a direction to register case under Section 494 of IPC against all citizens who commit the offence of bigamy irrespective of their personal laws. Rajit, the counsel for the petitioner contended that under Section 494 IPC there is no concept of any personal law and the section envisages punishment to everyone whosoever conduct a bigamous marriage.

The Court stated that “there cannot be any dispute to the submission as advanced by the counsel for the petitioner as the Indian Penal Code is a general code for India”. The Court read the crucial words in Section 494 IPC and made it clear that the main ingredient to attract Section 494 IPC is to prove that the marriage contracted (second marriage in the event of husband or wife living) is ‘void’ on account of husband or wife living.

The Court noted that “any marriage performed by a Hindu after enforcement of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 where a spouse is living is void, and the person contracting such marriage shall be punishable under Section 494 IPC for bigamy”. The Court further noted that “Muslim personal law allows a Mohammaden to take four wives together, therefore if a Muslim male marries a fifth wife he can very well be prosecuted under Section 494 IPC.  Similarly, a Muslim female contracting a second marriage can be proceeded with for offence under Section 494 IPC”. The Court concluded that Section 494 IPC does not discriminate between an offender belonging to Hindu/ Muslim/ Christian male or female belonging to any cast or creed and can be proceeded against any citizen irrespective of their personal laws provided that ingredients of Section 494 are made out.

The Court further made clear that a complaint under Section 198 (1); of CrPC for prosecution of offences against marriage can be made by a ‘person aggrieved by the offence’, therefore the prayer made by the petitioner (a public spirited person) cannot be entertained in the instant case, and accordingly dismissed the writ petition. Venugopal K. v. Union of India2015 SCC OnLine Ker 798

For a more detailed analysis of Bigamy see post here.

High Courts

Delhi High Court: While dismissing the PIL filed by an NGO for the immediate arrest of certain MP’s of  Maharashtra who had forced fed a chapati to a Muslim Catering Supervisor during Ramzan, at the New Maharashtra Sadan, the Court has held that initiation of proceedings by a third party under the garb of public interest litigation is not warranted. It was said that the petitioner relied on the basis of information gathered from Newspaper, T.V. and Social Media, however, no such report or relevant document was placed on record. While holding that the petition was filed without attaching any  relevant materials in support of the averments made therein, the Court clarified that in a PIL, Court has to be satisfied not only about the credentials of the applicant but also the prima facie correctness of information given by him. Public mischief as well as mischievous petitions for oblique motives should be avoided by the Court without encroaching upon the sphere reserved by the Constitution for executive and the legislature.

In the instant case certain Mp’s of Maharashtra had objected to the quality of food being served by  IRCTC at the New Maharashtra Sadan. While demanding immediate discontinuation of the same they entered the kitchen and tried to force feed a chapati to the Catering Supervisor, IRCTC, who was on fast at that time due to Ramzan. No complaint was filed by the victim against the incident.

Dismissing the PIL, Court viewed that two complaints had already been filed about the alleged incident which have been received by the Additional Commissioner of Police and appropriate action is being taken in accordance with law. A statement has also been made by the Home Minister terming it as an unfortunate and regrettable incident and that the Government should make constant efforts for maintaining religious harmony in the country. Since,  the petitioner has miserably failed to furnish any particulars to establish his credentials to maintain the writ petition by way of public interest litigation and steps have already been taken by the concerned authorities/departments, hence, the matter does not deserve Court’s intervention. Maulana Ansar Raza v. Udhav Thackrey, W.P.(C) 4741/2014, decided on 22-08-2014

To read the full judgment, refer SCCOnLine