Bombay High Court order to PIL litigant to deposit ₹3.9 crore is ‘rather harsh’, says Supreme Court

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File  

The Supreme Court has said it was “rather harsh” of the Bombay High Court to direct a PIL litigant to deposit ₹3.9 crore to prove his bona fide.

A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah agreed with the petitioner that it would be an “unbearable burden” to pay such a huge amount as costs for instituting a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition.

The petitioner in question here is Arvind Tukaram Shinde, a corporator with the Pune Municipal Corporation. He had filed a PIL plea in the Bombay High Court against a ₹390-crore sewage treatment plant project.

On June 30, the High Court ordered him to deposit one per cent of the project cost by July 5.

Mr. Shinde, represented by advocates Vipin Nair, P.B. Suresh and Karthik Jayashankar, moved the apex court saying that the High Court order “effectively prevents him from pursuing the PIL in court”.

On July 19, the apex court reduced the amount of the court deposit to ₹10 lakh to prove his bona fide. Taking up the case again on Tuesday, the court recorded that Mr. Shinde had paid the amount.

“We are of the view that the order for deposit of 1% of the project cost would be rather harsh,” the apex court said in its order on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court said while it was important to guard against motivated PILs meant to delay or thwart public projects, it was equally necessary to “preclude the possibility of a denial of access to justice.”

Setting aside the June 30 order, the Bench asked the High Court to take up Mr. Shinde’s PIL petition.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 4:22:56 AM |

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