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Delhi HC slaps Rs 10 lakh cost on NGO for 'blackmail' PIL

Source: PTI
August 03, 2022 22:24 IST
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The Delhi high court has slapped Rs 10 lakh costs on an NGO which had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging unauthorised construction in New Delhi, saying it was unfortunate that the noble forum of PIL was being used for blackmailing citizens.

The high court said it was "sheer abuse of the process of law" as suppression of facts has been admitted by the NGO and it is a settled proposition of law that a person who does not come with clean hands is not entitled to any relief whatsoever.    

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said the amount of Rs 10 lakh imposed as costs shall be paid to the Army War Widows Fund within 30 days and if it is not paid, the sub divisional magistrate of Saket shall recover the amount as arrests of land revenue and transfer it to the fund.   

 

Petitioner NGO, New Rise Foundation, contended that an unauthorised/ illegal structure was in existence in Neb Sarai in South Delhi and claimed that it has made various representations to the authorities but no steps have been taken in this regard.

Advocate Ajay Digpaul, standing counsel for MCD along with lawyers Kamal Digpaul and Swati Kwatra, said it was nobody's case that the MCD was not taking any action against the unauthorised constructions and as and when any information concerning unauthorised/ illegal constructions is brought to their notice, they are taking action with quite a promptitude. 

The counsel said the petitioner NGO was involved in blackmailing the builders and other people and the noble object for which the organisation was formed is not being looked into.    

”In the considered opinion of this court, the present petition is nothing but a sheer abuse of the process of law, and therefore, this court is of the opinion that the present petition deserves to be dismissed at the admission stage itself with costs of Rs 10 lakh to be paid to the Army War Widows Fund within a period of 30 days from today,” the bench said in its July 29 order which was made available on Wednesday.  

It also said that the registrar of the high court shall monitor the recovery of the amount and the petitioner shall appear before the registrar general for reporting compliance on September 2.

The MCD counsel informed the court that the same petitioner had earlier also filed a petition in June and when the court was inclined to impose cost the NGO withdrew the petition.

When the petitioner's counsel was confronted with the situation, he admitted that the property involved in this petition was the same which was involved in the earlier PIL and he had not mentioned this fact in the plea.   

The high court noted that the petitioner has deliberately suppressed the factum of filing of the earlier writ petition which was in respect of the same property.   

”It is very unfortunate that the noble forum of PIL is now being used for blackmailing the citizens. This is not a PIL at all. It is, in fact, litigation based upon certain photographs resulting in a blackmailing type of litigation.    

"The petitioner otherwise also wants a roving enquiry to be done based upon some photographs and there is no other evidence brought on record to arrive at a conclusion that the structure in question is an unauthorised construction,” it said.    

The high court said the NGO has certainly ”not come with clean hands” and the attempt on the part of the petitioner is nothing but an ”attempt to blackmail others”, and therefore, the petitioner suppressed the fact of filing the earlier petition.   

The high court referred to a previous judgment of the Supreme Court and said the top court has shown concern about misuse of PIL.  

It has been held by the Supreme Court that personal scores, personal disputes, and political rivalries should not be resolved through PIL, it noted, and said that in the considered opinion of this court, the petition is nothing but sheer abuse of the Doctrine of Public Interest Litigation, and therefore, deserves to be dismissed.   

It said the apex court has held that a litigant who attempts to pollute the stream of justice, or who touches the pure fountain of justice with tainted hands, is not entitled to any relief -- interim or final.

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