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Attractive Brand Of PIL Should Not Be Used For Suspicious Products Of Mischief: Delhi HC

According to the Delhi High Court, public interest litigations should be used only for redress of genuine public harm, not for "suspicious products of mischief."

Delhi High Court, New Delhi.
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Cautioning against the use of public interest litigations for private malice, the Delhi High Court has said the attractive brand name of PIL should not be used for "suspicious products of mischief" but for redress of genuine public harm.
     
A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, while dismissing a lawyer's plea against the method of empanelment of advocates to represent the Centre, said PIL was a weapon to secure justice for the voiceless and so the courts must see to it that such a petition is not for personal gain or political motivation or any other oblique consideration.
     
The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, said the present PIL was "nothing but a Publicity Interest Litigation" and "no public interest" was involved in the plea which was "filed only to upset the apple cart".
     
"The attractive brand name of Public Interest Litigation should not be used for suspicious products of mischief and should be aimed at redressal of genuine public harm or public injury. Courts must be careful to see that a member of the public who approaches the Court is acting bona fide and not for personal gain or private motive or political motivation or other oblique consideration," the court said in its order passed on July 3. 
     
The petitioner, Rajinder Nischal, challenged the method of empanelment of advocates to represent the Union of India on the ground that the size of the panel was not fixed and the government does not even invite applications for appointment or renewal. He said the appointment of advocates as government counsel was contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
     
Rejecting the contentions, the court said the central government, which is one of the largest litigants in the country, has the freedom to appoint its lawyers, and it seemed that the petition was filed only because the petitioner had been denied extension or re-appointment as a government counsel.
     
"A litigant can always choose a lawyer to represent him and the Government of India, which is one of the largest litigants in the country, has the freedom to appoint its lawyers. This Court is of the view that the present petition is nothing but a Publicity Interest Litigation," said the court. 
     
The court noted the Supreme Court has also expressed its displeasure over the waste of time caused by frivolous PILs as well as those camouflaged as PILs to settle personal scores.
     
"The Apex Court said that Public Interest Litigation has to be used with great care and circumspection and the judiciary has to be extremely careful to see that behind the beautiful veil of public interest an ugly private malice, vested interest and/or publicity-seeking is not lurking," the court said. 

"Given the above, the Writ Petition is dismissed," it ordered.

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