Bombay HC fines builder Rs 1 lakh for ‘judicial process abuse’
Bombay high court has slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on a builder who used it to make allegations against another builder and then backed off. The court termed it “an abuse of the judicial process.”
Raju Shah had filed a petition alleging misuse of government land in Bhayander by private parties. He further alleged the tehsildar was not taking effective steps to maintain the plot. The court converted it into a PIL as the grievance was of general nature.
Shah impleaded RNA Builders as respondent and made several serious allegations against it. However, he later “surprisingly” deleted RNA as respondent though the allegations against it continued to be part of the court records. The court took note of this and, on July 21, directed Shah to clarify the same. Shah applied for adjournments, but gave no “credible clarification about the circumstances in which the deletion was applied for and secured.”
The court noted neither had Shah applied for information under Right to Information Act to find out if there was misuse of government land, nor had he approached statutory authorities to take action before approaching the court.
A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and justice Mahesh Sonak on November 3 said Shah has no history of social work or civic activism and that it was not at all satisfied that this was a bona fide PIL. “The petitioner himself is a builder, functioning under the name and style of ‘Shraddha Developers’. The manner in which the petitioner has chosen to delete RNA Builders from the array of parties creates a severe dent in the credibility and the credentials of petitioner. We do not deem it safe or appropriate to entertain a public interest litigation of this nature and at the behest of such a petitioner,” the court stated. They judges said the PIL came up for hearing on 23 occasions but Shah sought time and did not file his reply. “We are, therefore, satisfied that this is abuse of judicial process and therefore, while dismissing this petition we impose costs of Rs 1 lakh upon the petitioner,” said the bench, directing it to be paid to the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority (MLSA) within four weeks.
News source: ETRealty