Bolgatty petition is private interest litigation, says court

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday admonished a petitioner and his counsel for moving a private interest petition under the guise of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bolgatty land issue.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice K. Vinod Chandran, came down heavily on Shelson Antony, a construction worker in the city, and his counsel Basil Attipetty, when a petition seeking a directive to the State government to take steps to implement the project came up for hearing.

He filed the petition in the context of the allegations of undervaluation and violation of norms in the allocation of 27 acres of land reclaimed by the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) at Bolgatty island and leased out to Yusuffali M.A. of the LuLu group for construction of a convention centre.

Faced with the severe criticism from the Bench, the counsel sought to withdraw the petition.

The court said the real intention of the petitioner was very clear. It knew whose interests the petitioner wanted to protect.

The court reminded the counsel that he had earlier too withdrawn PILs on three occasions, including the one on the issues of traffic snarls at the Edappally junction.

The court also decried the tendency among public interest litigants to get the content of the petition published in the media even before it came up before the court.

The court said that some restraints need to be imposed on moving public interest writ petitions. Though the petitioner wanted to withdraw the case, the Bench did not allow him to do so.

The court warned him that it would impose a heavy cost for moving such a petition. The court, while reserving verdict, said it would pass an appropriate order on the petition.

Earlier, when the petition was taken up for hearing, government pleader Girija Gopal submitted that the project was promoted by a private company.

The government had nothing to do with the project. It was for the company to decide whether it should go ahead with the project or not.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 10:05:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/bolgatty-petition-is-private-interest-litigation-says-court/article4779232.ece

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