The Bombay High Court refused to convert the petition filed challenging the slum rehabilitation project into a Public Interest Litigation and a cost of Rs. 3 Lakhs was imposed on the petitioner for abusing the process of the Court

The Bench of Justice G.S. Patel and Justice S.G. Dige observed that “We do not permit this Petition “to be converted” into a public interest litigation nor do we permit it to be withdrawn with the liberty to file a public interest litigation. As the Supreme Court has repeatedly said, false, mischievous and frivolous public interest litigations are increasingly the bane of our judicial system.”

Advocate Subhradeep Banerjee appeared for the petitioner and AGP MA Syed appeared for the State.

In this case, the previous Bench of the High Court had noted that the petitioner had no personal interest in the subject matter and further had asked the petitioner to deposit an amount of Rs. 3 lakhs to show his bonafide.

The said amount was deposited, however, the Court doubted his locus to maintain such a petition and said that “The Petitioner has no track record of public interest litigation or of espousing public causes in the larger public interest. The Petitioner has singled out one particular slum rehabilitation project, one developer, one slum society and the SRA.”

The Court noted that the allegations were made against entities and individuals who were not even joined in the matter and said that “There are allegations of collusion, of conversion of one structure into two, assertions about surveys done, reference to civil proceedings in the City Civil Court at Dindoshi and so on, but without any mention as to how the Petitioner has come by this information.”

The Court further noted that the slum society that was the beneficiary of the slum rehabilitation project had no complaint and that it was unclear on whose behalf or for whose protection this petition was filed.

Further, it was also held that the petitioner claimed to be an RTI activist in reply but the petition did not even mention that the information in the petition was based on disclosures obtained under the RTI Act.

Therefore, the Court rejected the petition and said that “While we are rejecting the Petition but we intend to send a strong message to those who seek to abuse and misuse our system and believe they can do so without costs.”

Accordingly, the Court directed the Registry to transfer the entire amount and accrued interest to the St Jude India Childcare Centers.

Cause Title- Abhilash Umesh Reddy v. Slum Rehabilitation Authority & Ors

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