The Madhya Pradesh High Court imposed a Cost of Rs.1,00,000/- on the Petitioner for filing a frivolous Public Interest Litigation (PIL) , wasting the valuable time of the High Court.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra dismissed a PIL filed by Gau Seva Sangh seeking the following reliefs :-
-The court may kindly be pleased to issue writ in like nature to direct the authorities to take necessary action on the representation of the petitioners and direct respondents to examine the necessary document for permissions to running the school which is required under the Act.
-The court may kindly be pleased to set aside the order dated 20.04.2017 and cancel the recognition granted to respondent No.6 (School) since 01.04.2017 to 31.03.2020 and also later on granted on 2021-22.
-The court may kindly be pleased to issue necessary directions to take appropriate action against the responsible department/authority/persons which overlooked and granted permission to respondent No.6.
The petitioner is a President of Gau Seva Sangh. It is his case that the Trust has executed a rent agreement on 14.11.2006 in favour of respondent No.6 for a period of 11 months for the purpose of running a school . The rent agreement was only for two rooms. Thereafter, the same was never extended. The respondent No.6 is running a school and further filed an application for seeking permission to run the middle school i.e. up to 8th standard. The respondents are not having any infrastructure for the same, therefore, the permission cannot be granted. He has raised objections before the authorities for the same, for which, the petitioner is continuously litigating before the Court.
On earlier occasion, he has preferred a Petition in 2011 alleging therein that the petitioner trust let out two rooms to the respondent no.6 to run the middle school. The respondent No.6 submitted an application for opening a middle school.
The objections were raised by the petitioner before the authorities. But the District Education Officer, without holding any enquiry and without physical verification, has granted permission to respondent No.6 on 30.08.2011. The petition was disposed off vide order dated 03.10.2011, which reads as under:-
“In view of the aforesaid submission made by the learned counsel for the parties and in the facts and circumstances of the case, this writ petition is disposed of with a direction that in case the petitioner prefers an objection to the District Education Officer within two week from the date of receipt of certified copy of the order passed today, the District Education Officer shall consider and decide the representation submitted by the petitioner expeditiously in accordance with law. Needless to state that before deciding the representation submitted by the petitioner, the District Education Officer shall afford an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner and to the respondent No.6 and shall pass a speaking order. It is made clear that this Court has not executed any opinion on the merits of the case.”
It is the case of the petitioner that the District Education Officer, Sagar vide order dated 20.04.2017 again granted recognition to run a middle school from 01.04.2017 to 31.03.2020. He preferred a Contempt Petition seeking non-compliance of the order dated 03.10.2011, which was dismissed vide order dated 16.07.2021. The petitioner again filed a Petition in 2021, which was subsequently withdrawn vide order dated 08.03.2022. Thereafter, this petition has been preferred in the form of Public Interest Litigation.
In pursuance to the notice issued, the respondent No.6 has filed a return in the matter pointing out the fact that the petitioner has suppressed material information from the Court. It is his case that a civil suit was filed by the petitioner . The civil suit was filed for eviction, claiming arrears of rent and for restoration of possession after removal of the construction by the respondent No.6. The defendant in the civil suit, who is respondent No.6 herein, has also filed a counterclaim seeking their title over the property on the basis of adverse possession.
It is contended that the petitioner is continuously making complaints against the respondent No.6 regarding running of the middle school. They have permission to run the middle school for almost ten years. The authorities after due inspection have granted permission to them. The petitioner has taken all possible steps to get the respondent No.6 out from the property in question. Filing of civil suit seeking eviction of respondent No.6 from the property has been suppressed by the petitioner. Once he was unsuccessful in getting respondent No.6 to be thrown out from the property, he filed this Public Interest Litigation. In the petition, he has admitted regarding execution of rent agreement on 14.11.2006 with the respondent No.6. Once the property belongs to the petitioner and they themselves have entered into an agreement with respondent No.6, then how a public interest litigation is maintainable. Therefore, he has prayed for dismissal of the petition.
The counsel appearing for the State has supported the arguments of respondent No.6 and has contended that the petition suffers from material suppression of fact and for the facts which have already been narrated herein-above, the public interest litigation cannot be held to be maintainable. He has prayed for dismissal of the petition.
From a perusal of the record, the Court noted that the petitioner has rented the property to the respondent No.6 vide rent agreement dated 14.11.2006. The respondent No.6 is running a middle school for the last more than a decade. The petitioner on earlier occasion has made all possible efforts to get the property vacated from respondent No.6. Even a civil suit was filed by him and that was dismissed. The factum of filing of civil suit and its dismissal has been suppressed before this Court. The aforesaid is a vital piece of information which the petitioner should have mentioned in the petition memo.
The petition suffers from material suppression of facts which is not permissible. He has tried to abuse the process of law and has vested the valuable time of this Court by filing a futile litigation. Once the petitioner was unsuccessful in his earlier attempts, he has tried to get the respondent No.6 thrown out from the property by filing this public interest litigation. No public interest is seen in the matter, rather it is private interest litigation as the property in question belongs to the petitioner himself. Filing the petition suppressing the material information amounts to abuse of the process of law , observed the Bench.
Under these circumstances, the Court held that the petition in the form of public interest litigation d to be not maintainable and for suppression of material information and for filing a frivolous litigation, wasting the valuable time of the High Court, the petition is dismissed with cost of Rs.1,00,000/- (One Lakh) to be paid by the petitioner with the M.P. High Court Employees Association, Jabalpur within a period of 15 days, from the date of the order. On failure to deposit cost, the matter may be listed under the heading of ‘Direction’ for consideration by the High Court.