In 2010, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on persons filing frivolous PILs and set out guidelines for filing them in State of Uttaranchal vs Balwant Singh Chaufal. The court had said: “unfortunately, of late, such an important jurisdiction, which has been carefully carved out, created and nurtured with great care and caution by the courts, is being blatantly abused by filing some petitions with oblique motives.”
Supreme Court Advocate Ajay K Agrawal’s recent petition against former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah may well be along the lines of these “inessential” actions that take up the precious time of not only courts already reeling from pendency of cases but also overworked quasi-judicial authorities.
Agrawal has filed a petition before the Election Commission of India seeking that Abdullah’s election in 2014 from the Beerwah assembly constituency in Jammu and Kashmir be declared null and void. The reason he gives is that Abdullah had suppressed a “material fact”.
Agrawal says that in the form for declaration of assets of his wife to the Election Commission, Abdullah had filled “NA” (Not Applicable) stating that he was separated from his wife. Agrawal’s petition further states that “according to the information available with the petitioner there is no separation of Omar Abdullah with his wife namely Mrs. Payal Abdullah who is still his wife and continue to live in the official accommodation allotted to Omar Abdullah at 7 Akbar Road”.
According to media reports, Payal Abdullah was served an eviction notice in June this year by the Estate Officer, Jammu and Kashmir government, for vacating the bungalow. At that time, Omar Abdullah had stated that he had separated from his wife and had moved out of the bungalow and also that he had informed her of alternative arrangements made for his family. He had requested the press to respect his privacy and stated that as regards the breakdown of his marriage, the matter was sub judice, awaiting adjudication by the court.
Perhaps it is on this technicality that Agrawal has based his petition, as he believes there is no judicial separation order as yet.
But is it worth the taxpayer’s money and the time of officials—that could be spent on more meaningful judicial work—to have officialdom engage in such tasteless and trivial technicalities?
—India Legal Bureau
Lead picture: (L-R) The Election Commission of India office in Delhi and former J&K CM Omar Abdullah (Photo: UNI)