HC imposes ₹50,000 costs on PIL petitioner

Telangana High Court Chief Justice Hima Kohli on Monday sent a loud and clear message to persons filing PIL petitions and their respective counsels.

Withholding information or misleading the HC would not be allowed when it comes to PIL pleas! Making this amply clear, the CJ dismissed a PIL petition and imposed ₹50,000 costs on the petitioner observing that the latter misled the court by withholding information that he was facing a criminal case connected to the PIL content.

The costs should be deposited in the account of Telangana State Legal Services Authority account. Rejecting repeated apologies expressed by the petitioner’s counsel Kurapati Sujatha, the CJ said the petitioner should mention about the order in the present petition if he files any other PIL pleas in the future.

Gattu Kumara Swamy, sarpanch of Laxmidevpet in Venkatapur mandal of Mulugu district filed the PIL plea seeking a direction to police officials to register a case against a person accusing him of harassing some people of the village in land matters. The petitioner also requested the court to set aside the FIRs issued by Venkatapur police Station House Officer against some villagers. Interestingly, an FIR was also issued against the petitioner Mr. Swamy.

When the plea came up for hearing before the bench of CJ and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy, the CJ pointed out that the petitioner himself was facing a criminal case and that the crucial fact was not mentioned in the petition. Counsel Kurapati Sujatha tried to explain that copies of the FIRs were presented.

But the CJ insisted on knowing whether the petitioner had disclosed the fact that an FIR was issued against him as well. The counsel replied that it was not mentioned. “Why you have not mentioned it….In the sworn affidavit the petitioner stated that he was not facing any civil or criminal cases….this amounts to perjury,” the CJ remarked.

Stating that the petitioner cannot take the court for a ride, the CJ told the counsel that she too owed double responsibility in explicitly stating facts since she was representing the petitioner. The counsel repeatedly apologised for the goof-up. “It is a false affidavit. No apologies. In fact, a show-cause notice should be issued to the petitioner to explain why he must not be prosecuted for this,” the CJ observed taking strong exception to the petitioner’s attempt to keep the court in the dark about the facts of the case.

The CJ remarked the petitioner had conveniently skipped key facts and gave a colour of public interest to the petition. The CJ rejected the counsel’s request for permission to withdraw the petition and imposed costs on the petitioner.

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