Whole concept of the PIL has been Lost: Supreme Court expressed displeasure over filing frivolous PILs

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Taking a strong objection on lawyers filing frivolous Public Interest Litigations (PIL) pleas, the Supreme Court expressed its displeasure against some of the PILs seeking wide-ranging directions to the centre on various issues involving the nationwide lockdown.

According to a report in New Indian Express, the Supreme court observed that the whole concept of the PIL has been lost.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprising Justices SK Kaul and BR Gavai said the concept of the PIL has been forgotten, as lawyers keep filing petitions on “what they feel is possible”. “This is not public interest litigation,” observed the bench.

The observation from the apex court came after a batch of petitions were filed citing gaps in the RBI circular issued on March 27, granting a three-month moratorium on repayment of term loans by borrowers, which meant they would not have to pay loan EMI instalments during the moratorium period.

The bench junking the PILs said there was no aggrieved party before it. The court also asked how would the lawyer justify that it was a bad scheme. The court also noted that none of the lawyers represented the actual borrower.

“How can you file Article 32 petition? Are you an aggrieved party in this petition?” asked Justice Kaul.

The lawyer replied the scheme will affect everyone.

“How are you saying you are an affected party?” Justice Kaul repeated his query.

Another petitioner argued that the banks were not implementing the RBI’s 27 March circular on EMI moratorium and many were aggrieved.

The bench, however, said, “We direct the Reserve Bank of India to ensure implementation of the Circular on 27 March, in its letter and spirit.”

In a separate PIL, another petitioner sought direction from the top court to universalise the public distribution system and provide ration to those who do not have ration cards. The top court said it has already asked the Centre to examine the matter.    

PILs becoming a tool to promote judicial activism?

In 1986, the then Chief Justice PN Bhagwati introduced PIL to the Indian judicial system. The original intent was to provide access to justice to aggrieved citizens. It allowed an individual or NGO to approach the top court seeking protection of rights of the downtrodden. But by the mid-1990s a flurry of high-profile cases was filed using the PIL instrument.

A section of activists-turned-lawyers has been misusing PILs to exert influence on the elected government. The activism through judiciary by certain members of the left-liberal ecosystem to hold the elected government into ransom has been criticised several times in the past.

Lawyers-turned-activists have been overburdening the courts by filing frivolous PILs to promote vested interests. The PILs have been largely used today to seek political and personal gains. The PIL is no more limited to problems of the poor and the oppressed. 

The charges of ‘Judicial Overreach’ by the Judiciary and allegations of judiciary overstepping its jurisdiction by engaging in such frivolous PILs have also been made in recent times.

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