The Delhi High Court recently imposed costs of ₹ 10 Lakh on an NGO for using Public Interest Litigation to blackmail others.

"It is very unfortunate that the noble forum of PIL is now being used for blackmailing the citizens. This is not a PIL at all. It is, in fact, a litigation based upon certain photographs resulting in blackmailing type of litigation.", the Bench of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad noted.

In this case, the petitioner-New Rise Foundation had raised a contention before the Court that an unauthorised/ illegal structure was in existence in Neb Sarai, Delhi. Counsel for the Petitioner Prakash Chandra Dwivedi, stated that the Petitioner had made various representations to various authorities, however, the MCD had not taken any steps in respect of unauthorised/ illegal structure.

To this, the Counsel for Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Ajay Digpaul, CGSC, argued that when any information concerning unauthorised/ illegal constructions was brought to their notice, they took action with quite promptitude.

It was contended by counsel for the MCD that the Petitioner-NGO is, involved in blackmailing builders and other people. The Court was informed that same petitioner had filed a petition earlier also wherein the Division Bench was inclined to impose cost as it was a frivolous Writ Petition.

The Court observed thus "The petitioner NGO has certainly not come with clean hands. The attempt on the part of the petitioner is nothing but an attempt to blackmail others, and therefore, the petitioner suppressed the fact of filing of the earlier petition."

The Court placed reliance on the Judgment of the Supreme Court in the matter of Prestige Lights Ltd. Vs. SBI, (2007) where it was held that when a party approaches a Court, it must place all facts before the Court without any reservation and in case there is suppression of material facts, the writ petition deserves to be dismissed without entering into the merits of the matter.

"In the present case, the petitioner has deliberately suppressed the factum of filing of the earlier writ petition…", the Bench stated.

The Court held that the present petition was a sheer abuse of the process of law, hence the Court imposed a cost of Rs. 10 Lakh on the Petitioner NGO and directed it to be paid to Army War Widows Fund within 30 days.

"In the considered opinion of this Court, the present petition is nothing but a sheer abuse of the process of law and therefore, this Court is of the opinion that the present petition deserves to be dismissed at admission stage itself with costs of Rs.10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakhs) to be paid to the Army War Widows Fund within a period of 30 days from today.", the Court held.

The Court also stated that if the amount is not paid within 30 days from today, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Saket will recover the amount as arrears of land revenue and shall transfer the same to the Army War Widows Fund.

Cause Title- New Rise Foundation Regd. Charitable Trust v. Municipal Corporation Delhi & Ors.

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