The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed the suit filed by actor Juhi Chawla against introduction of 5G technology in India and imposed a cost of Rs 20 Lakh on her and two other appellants. The court on Wednesday had reserved its order in the suit after hearing arguments over its maintainability.
Justice Jag Jivan Ram Midha said the suit is defective and dismissed it on technical grounds. “The plaintiffs have abused and misused the process of law which has resulted in waste of judicial time. The cost of Rs 20 Lakh is imposed on the plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs are directed to deposit the cost of Rs 20 Lakh with Delhi State Legal Services Authority within one week,” said the court, adding if the cost is not deposited within one week, the DLSA shall recover it in accordance with law.
The court further said the plaintiffs have filed the suit to gain publicity “which is clear from the fact that plaintiff no 1 (Chawla) circulated the videoconferencing link of this court on her social media accounts which resulted in repeated disruptions of court proceedings”.
The hearing on Wednesday had repeatedly been disrupted by unknown persons, who passed comments and sang songs from the actor’s movies. Soon after the court assembled virtually on the WebEx platform, around 3.15 pm on Wednesday, someone with the user name ‘Azaan’ could be heard saying, “Where is Juhi ma’am… I can’t see her.” When the court master asked the person to mute himself, he shouted back, ‘You want to mute me? Oh really!” Chawla was present during the hearing.
At least thrice, in the midst of arguments, user names such as ‘Manisha Koirala’ and ‘Jahnvi’ had sung songs — Meri banno ki aayegi baraat…, Lal lal hoton pe gori kiska naam hai… and Ghoonghat ki aad mein dilbar ka, all songs from 90s movies featuring Chawla.
The disruptions had prompted Justice Midha to warn the user against interruptions. The virtual courtroom was later ‘locked’ – a function on the platform that disallows users from un-muting themselves – by the court staff.
However, when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, was arguing on Wednesday, some of the participants repeatedly used thumbs down and laughter emojis that floated across the screen. Mehta had called the suit frivolous and submitted there was no cause of action.
Directing issuance of contempt notices to the persons who disrupted the proceedings on Wednesday, the court on Friday also directed the Delhi Police to identify the persons and serve the notices on them.
Chawla had shared the link of the virtual hearing on her Twitter and Instagram accounts prior to the hearing on Wednesday and appealed to people to attend the proceedings. The appellants in the suit were Chawla, Veeresh Malik and Teena Vachani.
The primary argument in the suit was that the government should certify to the public at large that 5G technology will not have any significant adverse effects “on the health, life, organ or limb of adult, child, whether of the present or future generation(s), or to any living organism, or to flora and fauna”. The suit citing “scientific studies” also contended that there is an “invisible enemy” which is “slowly killing us as a result of this ongoing battle between the network service providers to provide ‘faster’ and ‘wider’” service. It also stated that no studies have been conducted with regards to Radiofrequency radiation in India, while seeking efficient research on the subject.
The court on Wednesday had pulled up the appellants for approaching the court directly and observed that they could have approached the government first. It also had questioned the need for including a long list of people as defendants in the case, including the World Health Organisation.
Calling the suit a defective plaint, the court had said it has been filed “for media publicity”
Chawla in 2016 also had approached the Bombay High Court against mobile tower radiation and later approached the Supreme Court for transfer of the case. She has been seeking regulations and norms to reduce the radiation in that case.