Taking exception to frivolous lawsuits filed in courts, chief justice of Delhi high court Dipak Misra said that the P and I in 'PIL' stood for public interest and not personal interest or publicity interest.
Misra, who was transferred to Delhi from the post of chief justice of Patna high court, said he observed a disturbing trend that in Delhi civil and adversarial suits were filed under the garb of public interest litigations (PILs) and has assumed the proportion of a "plague".
His scathing remarks came in a PIL case filed by about 1,000 families in Rajinder Nagar, Delhi, against a Delhi Jal Board (DJB) directive to them. According to the order, the families had to replace their defective water meters by buying it from the market, as the board was short on those meters.
DJB counsel Sumeet Pushkarna said these houses were just billed between Rs 150 and 200 per month, based on an average consumption rate, for any amount of water they used.
Noting that citizens could not have anything for free, the bench, headed by Misra, said if the citizens have a fundamental right to water, it is also important for them to "pay for the water they use".
"There is an obligation to avoid personal interest, publicity interest, paisa interest," said the judge.
According to Misra, the concept of PIL specifies that it should not be adversarial, but aim at public good and improve the conditions of the marginalized sections of society or aim at good governance.
The chief justice has already imposed heavy fines on several such petitioners.
Ruling in the case, the court told the residents to replace the meter themselves, even if that meant spending Rs 600-700.
"A good governance also requires people's participation, for a citizen cannot claim his right … without thinking about his duty," he said.