Special Correspondent

Bench slams filing of fresh petitions for avoiding fine regime

CHENNAI: "Strongly condemning" the owners of dyeing and bleaching units, who kept filing fresh petitions to avoid the fine regime stipulated by the Madras High Court, the First Bench has directed them to pay the entire arrears by March 31.

The Bench of Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice K. Chandru said: "It is our categorical finding that the petitioners have been polluting the Noyyal river for all these years and are liable to pay fine on the basis of polluter-pays principle. It is not open to them to raise any further contention on the question of fine amount imposed on them... It is improper on their part to file a fresh batch of cases and try to put holes in our earlier judgment so as to nullify the effect of the judgment."

On December 22, 2006, the Bench, while passing orders on petitions from polluting unit-owners seeking extension of time to achieve the zero liquid discharge of trade effluents, stipulated they pay fine at the rate of six paise per litre of effluent from January 1 to March 31; eight paise a litre from April 1 to May 31; and 10 paise a litre from June 1 to July 31.

In the present batch of petitions, the unit-owners, who were parties to the earlier round of litigation, argued they operated their units only for 12 days in January and 19 in February. They sought to forbear the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board from calculating and collecting fine from them for the entire month.

Advocate-General R. Viduthalai, raising preliminary objections, said they should not file another set of writ petitions questioning the very basis of an earlier order of the court.

Concurring with his submissions, the Bench said: "In the name of seeking clarification on the earlier judgment, no party can be allowed to file fresh writ petitions against the very judgment in which the petitioners themselves were parties. Such practice is wholly reprehensible and can never be entertained by any court... The conduct of the petitioners in filing petition after petition so as to nullify the effect of the earlier order is highly unwarranted and deserves strong condemnation."


Reiterating that the matter had become final with the December 22 order, they said, "Having got the benefit of fixation of lesser rate, it was really unethical on the part of the common effluent treatment plants to come before this court with a fresh batch of writ petitions and seek direction to pay a lesser amount. If this is permitted, it will amount to rewriting our earlier judgment."