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Gujarat High Court imposes cost of Rs 10,000 on petitioner for misusing forum of public interest litigation

The Gujarat High Court imposed a cost of Rs.10,000/- on the Petitioner for misusing the forum of Public Interest Litigation .

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha P. Mayee dismissed a PIL filed by the petitioner, who claims to be a resident of the village – Bhadeli Jagalala, District – Valsad, seeks to raise a dispute with regard to irregularities committed in carrying out of development work in the village.

The entire petition has been prepared on the basis of an RTI application moved by the petitioner on 20.12.2022 in the Talati Office.

By means of the said application, the petitioner sought to ask for information on the projects accomplished, expenses incurred and projects underway / incomplete for the period 2014 to November, 2021. In reply to the said application, by means of a letter issued from the Talati Office, information was provided along with the completion certificates of the projects accomplished and expenses incurred.

It is stated in the petition that completion certificates of 24 projects amounting to Rs.27,40,000/- have been provided in reply to the said application, whereas total 60 projects amounting to Rs.54,12,116/- were to be executed. The completion certificates of 36 projects were not being provided to the petitioner in reply to the application under the RTI Act.

It is then submitted that in one of the completion certificate, the details of the project about street-lights being installed on the main road of Bhadeli Jagalala village, at an expenses of Rs.1,43,000/- was given, which was started on 26.02.2019 and completed on 27.09.2019. Vague assertion has been made in the petition that the said project as per the certificate was never carried out and a fake certificate was issued.

The Court held that the averment in petition to assail the execution of the project about the street-lights being installed on the main road of the village concerned, cannot be a reason to entertain the PIL.

As regards the contention of the petitioner that information with regard to completion certificates of the 36 projects were not provided to the petitioner, remedy before the petitioner was to approach the competent Appellate Authority under the RTI Act. No such appeal has been filed in the Petition, the Bench noted .

Further there is no detail of 60 projects, which according to the petitioner, have not been completed or certificates with regard to which have not been provided to the petitioner. The prayer in the petition is to issue a Mandamus to call for the records and examine for verifying the completion certificates issued by the competent authority.

The Bench noted that no roving inquiry can be made at the instance of the petitioner by the Court that too in a PIL. Further the petitioner himself has been arrayed as an accused in a complaint filed by the Deputy Sarpanch, Village Bhadeli Jagalala, for the offence under Sections 324, 323, 506(2) and 114 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 registered before the Valsad Rural Police Station, Valsad .

“It appears that the instant writ petition in the shape of PIL has been filed in order to settle personal scores with the Deputy Sarpanch. Even otherwise, there is no description of the Executing Agency of the projects, which according to the writ petitioner, have not been completed”, the Bench observed.

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