Bombay HC Imposes Re 1 Cost on Petitioners for Pursuing Personal Grievance

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The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court comprising Justice Sunil B Shukre and Justice MW Chandwani has dismissed a public interest litigation while stating that the petition is an abuse of the process of court and has imposed a fine of Re 1.

The petitioners had challenged the government resolution and the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra government related to the place of origin of the persons belonging to Mahadev-Koli, Scheduled Tribes. The petitioners had submitted that they were not being issued tribe certificates by the competent authority. It was argued that the guidelines were illegal as they amounted to imposing area restrictions upon the persons desirous of obtaining caste/tribe certificates from the competent authority even after the area restrictions had been removed long back.

The petitioners further stated that there was a report submitted by Dajiba Parbat Patil, Committee, who was Deputy Chairperson, Legislative Council in the year 1986. Out of the various recommendations, one was devising an easier and less complicated system for issuance of Scheduled Tribe certificate and cancellation of the Government Publication, Tribes of Maharashtra, 1982, with a direction to not use it as a reference book.

The Additional Government Pleader argued that the petitioners were espousing a personal grievance under the pretext of the PIL. She submitted that it is for the government to decide to accept or reject the recommendations of any committee and the petitioners cannot seek any mandamus to the state for accepting those recommendations. She argued that after the Caste Certificate (Issuance and Verification) Laws in Maharashtra, in 2000, was enacted, the Dajiba Patil Committee Report lost its relevance.

The high court agreed with the submissions of the Additional Government Pleader and noted, “The petitioners on the pretext of filing a public interest litigation are basically pursuing their own cause, which is evident from the fact that petitioners are personally aggrieved by non-issuance of tribe certificates to them, which is the submission of their learned counsel.”

The court also said that the real intention behind this petition was revealed by the counsel for the petitioners, which is to achieve a private purpose. The petitioner could take recourse to appropriate remedy but under no circumstances the petitioners were entitled to raise the issue through public interest litigation, which is really an issue of private nature.

The court said that it is for the state government to take a decision regarding acceptance or part acceptance or rejection or part rejection of recommendations of any committee and that the petitioners did not place on record any material showing that the report had been expressly rejected by the state government.

Calling the petition abuse of the process of court, the bench said, “On the above grounds, we find that this petition is not maintainable and in fact is an abuse of the process of Court and therefore, it is necessary that the petition is dismissed with some costs.”

The court dismissed the petition while imposing a cost of one rupee while noting, “The petition stands dismissed with costs of Rs.1/- which shall be paid by the petitioners within two weeks from the date of the order; failing which the petitioners shall pay costs of Rs.10,000/- [Rs.Ten Thousand only] within next two weeks and failing which the Registrar (Judicial) shall cause initiation of appropriate proceedings for recovery of final costs of Rs.10,000/- by treating them as arrears of revenue.”

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