Bangalore: Chief justice of high court livid over misuse of PIL system
Bangalore, Apr 22: Chief justice (CJ) of Karnataka high court, Justice D H Waghela, expressed deep anguish over the public interest litigation (PIL) filed against Sri Ramachandrapur Math, duly observing that in this case, the facility provided by law to help aggrieved parties to file PILs has been blatantly misused.
‘What do you think a PIL is meant for? This provision is being grossly misused. We have observed that a number of advocates are hand in glove with their clients in this matter. We will be compelled to direct Bar Council to disaffiliate such advocates,’ he warned.
In the recent past, continuing in a series of PILs and other cases filed against Sri Ramachandrapur Math, a non-government organization (NGO) named Astra, and Gokarna Rakshana Samiti had filed PIL vide number 36998/13 in the state high court. Through this PIL, the litigants had asked the high court to direct inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation into the affairs of the Swamiji of Sri Ramachandrapur Math, the Math, as well as Dharmachakra Trust run by the Math.
After filing the PIL, head of the said NGO, Chandan M C, and his legal counsellor, Mallikarjun Patil, had demanded payment of a sum of ten crore rupees, threatening the Swamiji and the Math of dire consequences in case of their failure to pay up this amount. They had offered to withdraw all the cases filed relating to the affairs of the temple at Gokarna that is being run by the Math if the amount demanded is handed over to them.
In subsequent developments, the police had launched an operation through which Chandan and Patil, who had blackmailed and threatened the Math, were arrested while accepting advance payment of ten lac rupees. Chandan, who has a criminal background, continues to be in judicial custody, while Mallikarjun Patil has been released on bail. Chief executive officer of the Math, K G Bhat, had appealed to the high court against the bail granted to Patil. Notice has been served to the defendant in this case, and the case is yet to come up for hearing.
The PIL was taken up for consideration on Monday April 21, by a division bench headed by the CJ. Earlier in the day, advocate representing the petitioners, K N Pravin Kumar, moved an application before the division bench, seeking to recuse himself from appearance in the case. During the hearing, the division bench comprising CJ, D H Waghela, and Justice B V Nagarathna, dismissed both the applications of the petitioners. In addition to commenting that the court will not tolerate misuse of PIL provisions, the learned judges said that usage of PILs for purposes, other than for which the system has been created, would be dealt with sternly.
The CJ, addressing the advocate representing the Math, asked whether the Math is serious in pursuing the case, duly expressing his determination to handle this case with the seriousness it deserves. He also directed the Math to place before the division bench all the facts covering past and present history and developments relating to the case, in the form of a detailed affidavit. The hearing was thereafter adjourned to April 28.
Senior advocates, K G Raghavan and Ashok Harnahalli, represented the Math in the case. Veteran lawyers, M R Satyanarayan and Arun Shyam were also present.