The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked high courts across the country to distinguish between motivated and genuine public interest litigations (PILs) so that precious time of the court is not wasted.
“Instead of every individual judge devising his own procedure for dealing with the public interest litigation, it would be appropriate for each high court to properly formulate rules for encouraging the genuine PIL and discouraging the PIL filed with oblique motives,” the bench said.
The Supreme Court, while issuing eight-point guidelines, imposed a Rs 100,000 fine on an Uttarakhand advocate for filing a frivolous PIL in the state high court. Advocate Balwant Singh Chaufal had challenged the appointment of Uttaranchal’s Advocate General L.P. Nathani in 2001.
A bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari directed the high courts to frame rules, devising a procedure to hear PILs. It fixed a time frame of three months for the rules to encourage a genuine PIL and said petitions filed by “busybodies” for extraneous and ulterior motives must be discouraged and heavy costs should be imposed on them.
The bench said courts should verify the credentials of the petitioner before entertaining a PIL.
It added: “The courts before entertaining a PIL should ensure that it is aimed at redressal of genuine public harm or public injury. The court should also ensure that there is no personal gain, private motive or oblique motive behind filing the public interest litigations.”
To cut down on frivolous PILs, the bench said cases filed for extraneous considerations should be curbed. A PIL should be entertained only after the judge is satisfied that its contents involve “substantial public interest” and are “correct”. If it is found that the PIL involves larger public interest, gravity and urgency, the court must give priority to it over other petitions.