The Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur Bench while imposing a cost of Rs. 50,000/- on two villagers held that the petition filed by them is an abuse of the process of the PIL (Public Interest Litigation) forum.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manindra Mohan Shrivastava and Justice Kuldeep Mathur asserted, “The disclosures, which have been made by the respondents and various revenue records, copies of which have been placed on record, show that the petitioners withheld such information from the Court so as to mislead the Court. In view of above, we are inclined to hold that the present petition is abuse of process of PIL forum. Accordingly, this petition is dismissed with exemplary cost of Rs.50,000/- which shall be deposited in the registry of the High Court within a period of two months, failing which appropriate recovery proceedings will be drawn from each of the petitioners.”

The Bench while dismissing the plea said that such petitions are rising to serve vested interest with oblique motives and without making proper research, the petitions are being filed.

None was present on behalf of the petitioners while AAG Sandeep Shah and Advocate Akshiti Singhvi appeared on behalf of the respondents.

Brief Facts -

A petition styled as PIL was filed by the petitioners assailing the auction proceedings vide e-auction notice issued by the Director of Mines and Geology Department, Udaipur inviting an application for issuing quarry licences for mining activities in a village. As per the said petition, the proceedings drawn by the respondents for the grant of quarry licences on the subject land were against public interest as it would adversely affect the flow of rainy water and will also affect the catchment area of various small ponds on which the people and cattle were dependent.

The State Government sanctioned the construction of a model pond in the year 2017-18 which followed the construction of small ponds under the MANREGA scheme. Thereafter, the authorities were requested to keep tree plantation, water flow area, and catchment area from mining activities and grant quarry licence after making proper demarcation of the land allotted to Suzlon Wind Energy for the land of a village and hence, the challenge to auction proceedings towards grant of quarry licences was made.

The High Court in the above regard noted, “The counsel for the petitioners is not appearing as apparently he is abstaining from work pursuant to the call given by the office bearers of the Bar Association. Such non-appearance is clearly illegal and in breach of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Ex. Capt. Harish Uppal Vs. Union of India & Anr. [2003 (2) SCC 45].”

The Court further said that the petitioners’ allegations as contained in the writ petition are not only factually incorrect but are contrary to the revenue records and various reports.

“We find that in various representations which were made challenging the action of the respondents in holding e-auction proceedings in Annex.A/8, the villagers sought concession of 20% weightage in bid security. The petitioner No.1 Narayan Singh is one of the signatory. It would thus be seen that while raising objections to grant of quarry licences on the land for which auction was initiated, concession has also been sought, which shows that even the villagers including the petitioner No.1 were interested in getting the licenses”, observed the Court.

The Court also took note of the reply of the State that a large number of illegal mining was going on in the area, and therefore, it was decided to grant a quarry licence.

“The petitioners have not even cared to implead those persons in whose favour quarry licences have been issued. Even the quarry licenses issued have not been challenged. Thus, the present petition appears to be abuse of process of law”, the Court asserted.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the plea.

Cause Title- Narayan Singh & Anr. v. State of Rajasthan & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023/RJJD/007065)

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