Taking a hard stance against those who fail to reveal facts while filing public interest litigation (PILs), the Bombay high court on Wednesday penalised a Pune resident and imposed a cost of Rs50,000 on him.
Jayprakash Unecha had filed a PIL last year alleging that several bogus ration cards were issued in Pune. To substantiate his claims, Unecha had cited examples of two Pune residents, who had bogus ration cards. His petition claimed that Gulabchand Ramji Danji and Babulal Sharma possessed such cards and were running ration shops.
The petitioner, however, failed to disclose that he too was managing a ration shop, owned by his father-in-law Danji, whom he had accused of holding a bogus ration card. Also, Unecha had failed to mention that he was facing trial in nine criminal cases, including cases under the Negotiable Instrument Act, the Essential Commodities Act and the Food Adulteration Act.
A division bench of justice Ranjana Desai and justice Rajesh Ketkar said: “The petitioner (Unecha) is guilty of suppressing a vital fact before the court that respondent number 6 (Danji) is his father-in-law. We have no doubt that he (Unecha) is trying to settle his personal dispute through this PIL.”
“No one having criminal antecedents can come to this court and set its machinery in motion…. there may be ulterior motive,” remarked justice Desai. The court said, “Petitioner has made false statements and used the court to settle a private dispute. He can’t be allowed to prosecute this PIL.”
Danji’s counsel Nitin Jamdar had pointed out to the court that till December 2010, Unecha was managing his rationing shop. Nitin Deshpande, advocate for Sharma, said that they were the victims as they were not responsible for issuing ration cards.
The court has said that it may discharge Unecha due to his personal interest involved in the PIL. Considering the serious issue, court said it might take suo moto (own its own) cognisance of the issue.
The court has also asked public prosecutor Pandurang Pol to inform them in two weeks what action government proposes to take against its officers, who are negligent in duty as a result of which bogus rations cards are issued.
The court also directed the petitioner to deposit the amount in the high court registry within a week.