Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Gauhati High Court disposes of PIL after petitioners’ grievance met

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The Gauhati High Court recently disposed of a PIL which was filed with the grievance of the petitioner that certain anomalies had taken place in the disbursement of compensation to the land owners under the Trans Arunachal Highway Project, more particularly, in respect of the portion of the Highway from Joram to Koloriang road and Potin to Bopi road, after observing that the core grievance of the petitioner for investigation by an independent agency had been met

The PIL has been filed by one Likha Rajnik in 2018.

At that relevant point of time, there was also an issue that three petitions were also pending on the issue of payment of compensation to the land owners. But during the pendency of the PIL, the other petitions had already been disposed of in the manner it was deemed appropriate, observed the Itanagar Division Bench of Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua and Justice Robin Phukan.

With regard to the grievance of the petitioner that there is a requirement of an investigation by an independent agency on the irregularities that had taken place in the disbursement of the compensation to the affected land owners, the Court  take note of the order dated 17.11.2021.

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In the said order of 17.11.2021, it was taken note that SIC vigilance cases  have been registered. To that extent, there is also an affidavit by the State respondents. In the order of 17.11.2021, it was also taken note that prosecution sanction in both the vigilance cases have been granted by the Commissioner, Vigilance.

It was also noted by the Court that the investigation was in the stage where the charge-sheet was yet to be filed.

A . Bhattacharjee, counsel for the petitioner on 17.12.2021 had made a statement that the grievance raised by the petitioner would be redressed in a complete manner only upon the submission of the charge-sheet. On the said date, the Court intended to close the PIL, but it was not so done as the matter was before the  Single Judge and therefore, a question had arisen whether a PIL can be closed by a  Single Judge or it has to be done by the Division Bench. In the aforesaid circumstances, this matter is listed on March 29.

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Although Mr. A Bhattacharjee, is not present on March 29 , the Bench takes note of his submission that was recorded in the order dated 17.11.2021 that the grievance of the petitioner would receive a complete redressal only upon the filing of the charge-sheet.

The High Court was  unable to accept the said contention of the counsel for the petitioner, inasmuch as, the outcome of an investigation is the prerogative of the investigating authority and the same cannot be dictated either by a PIL petitioner or by this Court in taking the matter under the PIL jurisdiction. As the core grievance of the petitioner for investigation by an independent agency had been met, the Bench is  of the view that no further purpose would be served in keeping the PIL pending.

Accordingly, the Court closed the PIL and directed the respondents  to bring the two SIC vigilance cases  to its logical end as required under the law.

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