SC slams Bhushan’s role in Loya case PIL, says attempts made to mislead it
Dismissing a clutch of public interest litigations (PILs) seeking a probe into the death of special CBI court judge BH Loya in 2014, the Supreme Court slammed the role of advocate Prashant Bhushan and his NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), saying “attempts were made to misrepresent and mislead the court by manufacturing evidence to cast a doubt on the circumstances leading to the death of judge Loya”.
Deploring the role played by Bhushan in the case, justice DY Chandrachud, who authored the judgment on behalf of the three-judge bench, said, “Prashant Bhushan adopted a dual mantle and went to the length of personally collecting evidence to bolster the case.”
“The petition is a veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary and to dilute the credibility of judicial institutions,” said the court, criticising the intervention of CPIL.
The court also condemned the manner in which CPIL brought on record the opinion of an independent expert, Upendra Kaul, to establish alleged foul play in the December 2014 death of judge Loya.
Bhushan defended CPIL, which he said “got involved in the judge Loya case after seeing the case reports”.
“CPIL procured copies of judge Loya’s ECG (electrocardiogram) and histopathology report and sent them to Dr (Upendra) Kaul. He is the foremost cardiologist in the country and we also spoke to other cardiologists and they uniformly opined that the ECG and pathology report showed no signs of a heart attack,” Bhushan said.
“Post-mortem reports examined independently also ruled out heart attack. It was in such circumstances that CPIL intervened in the case. Unfortunately, the court has imputed motives to CPIL and me, which is totally unjust and uncalled for,” he added.
Expressing concern over the practice of abusing the powerful tool of PIL, the apex court said, “The misuse of public interest litigation is a serious matter of concern for the judicial process. It is a travesty of justice for the resources of the legal system to be consumed by an avalanche of misdirected petitions purportedly filed in the public interest which, upon due scrutiny, are found to promote a personal, business or political agenda.”
Dedicating over five paragraphs in the 114-page judgment to the rising incidents of misuse of PILs ,the court lamented the fact that an industry has been spawned of vested interest in litigation.
“There is a grave danger that if this state of affairs is allowed to continue, it would seriously denude the efficacy of the judicial system by detracting from the ability of the court to devote its time and resources to cases which legitimately require attention. Worse still, such petitions pose a grave danger to the credibility of the judicial process. This has the propensity of endangering the credibility of other institutions and undermining public faith in democracy and the rule of law,” reads the verdict.
Ruing the state of affairs around the filing of PILs in the top court ,the ruling said the court was being used “to settle extra-judicial scores”.
Cautioning against the rising misuse of PILs, it said, “There is a danger that the judicial process will be reduced to a charade, if disputes beyond the ken of legal parameters occupy the judicial space.”