Dismayed at the manner in which public interest litigation on the Bolgatty land issue was filed, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has expressed its apprehension about the real intention behind the filing of the petition.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice K. Vinod Chandran made the observation while dismissing as withdrawn a public interest litigation filed by Shelson Antony, a construction worker in Kochi, seeking directive to the State government to take steps to implement the project.
The court further observed that it often faced with a situation of public interest litigations challenging the action of the State government in awarding tender being filed and then sought to be dismissed, thus pre-empting the filing of genuine PIL challenging the illegal and arbitrary actions of the government.
The court said in the instant case, the tender was awarded on specific conditions, from which the State government or an awardee was entitled to resile from. “The present litigation is aimed at stultifying such enforcement of condition specific in the tender or terms of agreements,” the court observed. The petitioner filed the petition in the context of the allegations of undervaluation and violations of norms in the allocation of 27 acres of land in Bolgatty Island reclaimed by the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) and leased out to Yusuffali M.A. of the Lulu Group for construction a convention centre and his subsequent announcement to withdraw from the project.
Faced with the severe criticism from the Bench, the counsel for the petitioner had sought to withdraw the petition when it came up for hearing last time. The petitioner wanted the government to intervene against the backdrop of the reported decision of the Lulu group to withdraw from the project. Acccording to him, the withdrawal would jeopardizes employment opportunities of large number youths.
The court observed that the collective of right of gaining employment, if the project was implemented, was “mere illusory” and that could not be enforced.