Highlighting the alleged discrepancy between the cost imposed on the petitioner by the Chief Justice of India-led Bench while dictating the order in the open Court and the order that was uploaded in a Public Interest Litigation, a Miscellaneous application has been filed by the petitioner in the Supreme Court seeking the recall or modification of the Court's order. The Court had imposed a cost of ₹5 lakh upon the petitioner who is a practicing Lawyer for filing a frivolous PIL.

The Supreme Court on October 13, 2023, had come down heavily on a Lucknow-based Advocate for filing a PIL challenging the oath administered by the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court on the grounds that the Chief Justice did not use the word 'I' while taking the oath of office and had dismissed the Petition with costs of ₹5,00,000.

However, in the Miscellaneous Application filed by Advocate Ashok Pandey, it is argued that the established legal principle maintains that once an order is issued in open Court, it cannot be altered in chambers. In his MA, Pandey asserts that when the Court issued the order in the writ petition, it imposed a cost of ₹25,000. However, in the order published on the Supreme Court's website, the cost amount is stated as ₹500,000.

"So many advocates practicing in the supreme court including the AOR Sri Parmanand Pandey were shocked to read the order in which the cost amount was mentioned as Rs 5,00000 as they heard the open court order imposing the cost of Rs 25,000.This happened in spite of the fact that the supreme court proceedings are recorded for records and can be perused to verify about the correctness of the order pronounced in the Open Court", reads the Miscellaneous application.

Pandey further contends that, due to a typographical error, the cost amount imposed in open court was mistakenly recorded as ₹5,00,000 instead of the correct amount of ₹25,000 and therefore he seeks direction to rectify the order accordingly. The MA further reads, "That the petitioner is a poor person not having so much money in his account and so pray the court to kindly modify the order passed by it as mentioned in above paragraph."

Seeking recall of the order, the MA filed also highlights that there was an issue of audio of the petitioner echoing during the court proceedings, but instead of adjourning the case to address the problem, the case was decided.

It has also been asserted in the Miscellaneous Application that the court directed that in case the amount is not deposited within four weeks, the money shall be collected as arrears of land revenue by the Collector/District Magistrate of Lucknow and in light of this order, the Supreme Court registry was supposed to send a letter to the Collector/District Magistrate in the event of the petitioner failing to deposit the cost within the specified time, however even before the expiration of the four-week period granted by the court for depositing the cost, the registry issued a letter to the Collector/District Magistrate of Lucknow for the recovery of the amount, which he states to be highly improper and illegal.

"That the petitioner is aware of practice where no process to recover of cost amount is initiated by the Supreme Court, once the review and Curative Petition is filed but here, even before the expiry of 4 weeks time granted by the Court to deposit the amount, the Supreme Court registry has directed the Collector/District magistrate to recover the cost amount which is not proper and is bad in law", reads the MA.

The PIL filed by Ashok Pandey stated, "Kindly order for re-oath by Sri Devendra Kumar Upadhyay for the office of Chief Justice for Maharashtra and Goa High court, which is generally known as Bombay High court for the reason that the word ‘ I’ was not used by Hon’ble Sri D K Upadhyay while taking the oath of the office."

Recently, another Bench of the Supreme Court had imposed a cost of Rs.1 Lakh on the same Petitioner for challenging the notification issued by the Lok Sabha speaker to reinstate Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP, Mohammed Faizal Padippura's parliamentary membership in a PIL. The Court had said that there is a limit to the kinds of frivolous PILs that can come before us and imposed the exemplary cost by stating that such PILs should be dissuaded from coming before the Court.

Cause Title: Ashok Pandey v. Union Of India [MA-002283/2023]