Courts should be ruthless with frivolous PILs: SC

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New Delhi, Dec 29 (UNI) The Supreme Court, while observing that PILs in service matters should not be ordinarily entertained, reiterated that courts in the country should be ruthless with impostors, busybodies or meddlesome interpolators filing bogus and frivolous PILs impersonating as public-spirited holymen.

A Division bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta issued the aforesaid directions while directing the Maharashtra government to initiate forthwith the selection process of the chairman and members of the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC), if not already done.

The apex court, however, refused to quash the criminal proceedings against some functionaries of the MPSC for alleged bungling in the competitive examinations conducted by the Commission. The Court reasoned the decision saying, ''In both the cases, the affected persons have filed writ petition. It is true that if the allegations are found to be substantiated it would affect the image of the Commission. But that cannot be a ground to stall investigation which has to be done in a transparent manner. The credibility of any institution depends upon the transparent action of its functionaries.'' The two PILs were filed by two advocates alleging on the basis of some newspaper reports that there was large scale malpractice in the examination conducted by the MPSC.

Twenty-two accused were arrested in the matter. The investigating officer S B Pujari alleged in his affidavit that he was being transferred as he had collected sufficient evidence against the officials of the MPSC. The Mumbai police was also in the process of arresting one Sayalee Joshi, a senior functionary of the MPSC. Seema Dhamdhere, the then secretary of the Commission also challenged her transfer.

The apex court while disposing of the petitions also noted, ''It is pointed out by the learned counsel for the Commission that it would be in the interest of all concerned if the examinations which are said to have been not held for nearly five years are held early.

The process of selection of the Chairman and the members would be inititated forthwith if not already done. It has been stated that the new secretary of the Commission has taken over.'' The Supreme Court, while deciding the case, also accepted the ratio of its judgement in an earlier case that ''the court has to strike a balance between two conflicting interests; firstly, nobody should be allowed to indulge in wild and reckless allegations besmirching the character of others; secondly, avoidance of public mischief and to avoid mischievous petitions, seeking to assail for oblique motives, justifiable executive actions.

In such a case, the court cannot afford to be liberal. It has to be extremely careful to see that under the guise of redressing a public grievance, it does not encroach upon the sphere reserved by the Constitution for the Executive and the Legislature.'' The Supreme Court further added that the courts have to act ruthlessly while ''dealing with those who masquerade as crusaders of justice. They pretend to act in the name of pro bono publico, though they have no interest of the public or even of their own to protect.'' It also ruled that frivolous petitions should be dismissed with exemplary costs to send the message in the right direction that petitions filed with oblique motive do not have the approval of the courts.

The highest court concluded by observing that PILs in service matters should not be ordinarily entertained.

UNI

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