The Jharkhand High Court emphasized the requirement of genuine public-spirited interest for a petitioner in PILs and the Court's inherent powers to act in matters of public importance, even in the absence of the original petitioner.

The Court said that while there were indications of significant financial misappropriation warranting a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the petitioner, due to lacking the necessary credentials, was removed from the proceedings. The Court thus reclassified the case as "Court on its Own Motion" and scheduled a further hearing.

The order emanated from an interim application. The State contended that the petitioner lacked the necessary credentials for the writ application to be maintained.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra and Justice Ananda Sen held, “it is seen that this Court finds certain information regarding a possible misappropriation of funds to the tune of thousands of crores. Hence, this Court is of further opinion that it is a fit case where the Public Interest Litigation should be entertained, but the petitioner should be struck out from the record. Hence, this Court orders that the petitioner’s name along with his counsel shall be struck out from the record and it will be registered as “Court on its Own Motion”. Accordingly, the I.A. is disposed of”

Advocate Rajeev Kumar appeared for the Petitioners, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for the State, Advocate Anil Kumar appeared for union of India and Advocate Amit Kumar Das, representing the Enforcement Directorate, echoed the State's position.

The State cited the Supreme Court judgment in "State of Jharkhand Vs. Shiv Shankar Sharma and others, 2022." This judgment underscored that a petitioner in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) must exhibit a genuine public-spirited interest.

The Court inquired about its jurisdiction to proceed when the petitioner's credentials were in doubt. The State Counsel clarified that the Jharkhand High Court can initiate suo motu proceedings based on credible information, as stipulated by specific rules.

The Court referenced T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad Vs. Union Of India & Ors., 2006, which permitted the Court to transform a PIL into a suo motu proceeding if the petitioner's credentials were questionable. However, this course of action was advised only in exceptional cases.

The Court also cited Holicow Pictures Pvt. Ltd Vs. Prem Chandra Mishra & Ors, 2007, emphasizing the Court's ability to address matters of public interest even without the original petitioner, via the appointment of an amicus curiae.

Given potential indications of significant financial misappropriation, the Court deemed the matter appropriate for a PIL. However, it decided to remove the petitioner's name from the record, reclassifying the case as a "Court on its Own Motion."

The case was slated for a subsequent hearing in January 2024. The Bench will appoint an amicus curiae at that time.

Cause Title: Arun Kumar Dubey v. The Director & Ors.

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