At newly built omni bus stand at Mattuthavani

The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday dismissed a batch of four writ petitions that challenged a resolution passed by Madurai Municipal Corporation on November 21, 2013, to allot office space at the newly-constructed omni bus stand at Mattuthavani here to members of a particular association without conducting a public auction.

A Division Bench comprising Justice V. Ramasubramanian and Justice V.M. Velumani said: “As a matter of fact, the manner in which the Corporation has gone about in the matter of allotment of office spaces does not satisfy our judicial conscience. One of the persons to whom an allotment has been made appears to be the co-brother of Mayor of the Corporation. If only a person with credibility had come up with a public interest litigation petition, we would not have hesitated to examine the correctness of the allotments so made. But, we refrain from examining the same in view of the fact that the present petitioners before us lack credibility.” The judges pointed out that the litigants before the court had actually resorted to “guerrilla warfare.”

Writing the judgement, Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian pointed out that the first writ petition on the issue was filed in February. However, a single judge of the court ordered notice alone without passing any interim orders. Thereafter, another writ was filed by a bus operator and he too failed to obtain favourable interim orders. The third writ too faced a similar fate.

“Since there was no interim order in any of the three writ petitions, a public interest litigation petition came to be filed, perhaps as a last resort, by an advocate seeking the very same prayer as made in the first three writ petitions. The said public interest litigation came up before us and we clubbed all the petitions so that they could be dealt with together,” the judge said.

He pointed out that the lawyer who had filed a PIL on the issue “has been so generous and broadminded that the information obtained by him under the Right to Information Act has been parted to the petitioners in the first two writ petitions. In this manner, the petitioner in the public interest litigation has, to some extent, served public cause or at least to the cause of the two individuals.”

The judge went on to state: “A public interest litigation is not a weapon in the armoury of unscrupulous persons to settle scores – political, social or even philosophical. A group of persons joining together and securing information under the Right to Information Act and thereafter filing writ petitions one after another, both by way of private interest as well as by way of public interest, has to be deprecated.”

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