Exercise of discretion by High Court in Writ Petition:
There is no doubt that the High Court in its discretionary jurisdiction may decline to exercise the discretionary writ jurisdiction on ground of delay in approaching the court. But it is only a rule of discretion by exercise of self restraint evolved by the court in exercise of the discretionary equitable jurisdiction and not a mandatory requirement that every delayed petition must be dismissed on the ground of delay. The Limitation Act stricto sensu does not apply to the writ jurisdiction. The discretion vested in the court under Article 226 of the Constitution therefore has to be a judicious exercise of the discretion after considering all pros and cons of the matter, including the nature of the dispute, the explanation for the delay, whether any third party rights have intervened etc.The jurisdiction under Article 226 being equitable in nature,questions of proportionality in considering whether the impugned order merits interference or not in exercise of the discretionary jurisdiction will also arise. This Court in Basanti Prasad vs. Bihar School Examination Board and others, (2009) 6 SCC791, after referring to Moon Mills Ltd. vs. Industrial Court, AIR1967 SC 1450, Maharashtra SRTC vs. Balwant RegularMotor Service, AIR 1969 SC 329 and State of M.P. and Others vs. Nandlal Jaiswal and others, (1986) 4 SCC 566, held that ifthe delay is properly explained and no third party rights are being affected, the writ court under Article 226 of the Constitution may condone the delay, holding as follows:
“18. In the normal course, we would not have taken exception to the order passed by the High Court.They are justified in saying that a delinquent employee should not be permitted to revive the stale claim and the High Court in exercise of its discretion would not ordinarily assist the tardy and indolent person. This is the traditional view and is well supported by a plethora of decisions of this Court.This Court also has taken the view that there is no inviolable rule, that, whenever there is delay the Court must refuse to entertain a petition. This Court has stated that the writ court in exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution may condone the delay in filing the petition, if the delay is satisfactorily explained.”
Indefinite black listing of a firm by Government
The aforesaid discussion, therefore, leads us to the conclusion that the writ petition was not barred by unexplained delay as the appellant had been pursuing the matter with the authorities and it is they who sat over it, triggering rejection of appellants tender by the Rajasthan Government on 05.07.2019 leading to the institution of the writ petition on 24.07.2019. The High Court therefore erred in dismissing the writ petition on grounds of delay. The illegality and the disproportionate nature of the order dated 08.09.2009, with no third party rights affected,never engaged the attention of the High Court in judicious exercise of the discretionary equitable jurisdiction.Consequently, the impugned order of the High Court as well as order dated 08.09.2009 of the respondents are set aside, and the appeal is allowed.
(Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund)
PM CARES Fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund) has been constituted as a public charitable trust. After outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, need of having a dedicated national fund with objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a fund was created by constituting a trust with Prime Minister as an ex-officio Chairman of PM CARES Fund, with other ex-officio and nominated Trustees of the Fund. The PM CARES Fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organisations and does not get any Budgetary support. No Government money is credited in the PM CARES Fund.
After outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, need of having a dedicated national fund with objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a fund was created by constituting a trust with Prime Minister as an ex-officio Chairman of PM CARES Fund, with other ex-officio and nominated Trustees of the Fund. The PMCARES Fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organisations and does not get any Budgetary support. No Government money is credited in the PM CARES Fund.
This PM Cares Fund has no connection with PMNRF Fund. PMNRF Fund was not subject to any consideration in this case, as popularity reported in the media. The plea was to transfer the fund to NDRF maintained under DM Act 2005. To know about PMNRF read here.
Conclusion by Supreme Court:
The PM CARES Fund has been constituted in the year 2020 after outbreak of pandemic COVID-19whereas the new guidelines came into force with effect from 2015-16, on which date the PM CARES Fund was not in existence, hence, the submission that new guidelines were amended to benefit the PM CARES Fund is wholly misconceived.
When the Centre is providing financial assistance to the State to take measures to contain COVID-19, as we have noticed above that by order dated 03.04.2020 first instalment of Rs.11,092/- crores which is the Central Share to the SDRMF has been given and there is nothing on record that any State has exceeded the expenditure in excess of the balance in the State’s SDRMF, there is no occasion of asking more fund by the State from NDRF.When the Central Government is providing financial assistance to the States to contain COVID-19 it is not for any PIL petitioner to say that Centre should give amount from this fund or that fund. The financial planning is in the domain of the Central Government, which financial planning is made after due deliberation and consideration. We, thus, do not find any substance in the submission of the petitioner that there is any statutory restriction/prohibition in utilization of NDRF forCOVID-19. More so when sub-section (2) of Section 46 specifically provides that NDRF shall be made available to the National Executive Committee to be applied towards meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Central Government, the NDRF can be used for containment of COVID-19
It is for the Central Government to take the decision as from which fund what financial measures are to be taken and it is neither for PIL petitioner to claim that any financial assistance be made from particular fund nor this Court to sit in judgment over the financial decisions of the Central Government.
The PM CARES Fund is a public charitable trust and is not a Government fund. The charitable trusts are public trusts. The mere fact that administration of the Trust is vested in trustees, i.e., a group of people, will not itself take away the public character of the Trust.
The contributions made by individuals and institutions in the PM CARES Fund are to be released for public purpose to fulfill the objective of the trust. The PM CARES Fund is a charitable trust registered under the Registration Act, 1908 at New Delhi on 27.03.2020. The trust does not receive any Budgetary support or any Government money. It is not open for the petitioner to question the wisdom of trustees to create PM CARES fund which was constituted with an objective to extend assistance in the wake of public health emergency that is pandemic COVID-19.
We have noticed above that guidelines which were issued for constitution and administration ofNDRF and State’s SDRMF, the guidelines provided utilization of fund for limited calamities, which didnot include any biological and public healthemergency. We have already noticed Clause 3.1 of guidelines for administration of NDRF, which did not provide for the calamities which cover the biological and public health emergency. Thus, under the guidelines which were in existence with effect from financial year 2015-16 neither NDRF nor SDRF covered the biological and public health emergencies. It was only by notification dated 14.03.2020 that COVID-19was treated as notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under SDRF. Obviously prior to this notification dated 14.03.2020 no contribution by any person or institution in the NDRF could have been made with respect to specified disaster, namely, biological and public health emergency like COVID-19, Outbreak of COVID-19 in India as well as other countries of the World required immediate enhancement in the infrastructure of medical health and creation of fund to contain COVID-19. At this need of the hour no exception can be taken to the constitution of a public charitable trust, namely, PM CARES Fund to have necessary financial resources to meet the emergent situation.
Prayers (a) to (c) made in the writ petition:
“a.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to prepare, notify and implement a National Plan under Section 11 read with Section 10 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;
b.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to lay down minimum standards of relief, under Section 12of the Disaster Management Act, 2005,to be provided to persons affected bythe COVID-19 virus, as well as by the resultant national lockdown;
c.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to utilize NDRF for the purpose of providing assistance in the fight against GOVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Section 46 of the DMAct, all the contributions/grants from individuals and institutions shall be credited to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) rather than to PM CARES Fund and all the fund collected in the PM CARES Fund till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF;”
Rejection of prayers by Supreme Court:
In view of the foregoing discussions, the prayer ‘a’ and ‘b’ made in the writ petition are refused.With respect to prayer ‘c’, we make it clear (i) that there is no statutory prohibition for the Union of India utilizing the NDRF for providing assistance in the fight of COVID-19 in accordance with the guidelines issued for administration of NDRF; (ii)there is no statutory prohibition in making any contribution by any person or institution in the NDRF as per Section 46(1)(b)of the Act, 2005.
The entire judicial system has been unnecessarily brought into disrepute for no good cause whatsoever. It passes comprehension how it was, that the petitioner presumed, that there is an FIR lodged against any public functionary. There is an averment made in the writ petition that it is against the highest judicial functionaries; that FIR has been recorded. We do not find reflection of any name of the Judge of this Court in the FIR. There is no question of registering any FIR against any sitting Judge of the High Court or of this Court as it is not permissible as per the law laid down by a Constitution Bench of 5 Hon’ble Judges of this Court in the case of K. Veeraswami v. Union of India (1991) 3 SCC 655 wherein this Court observed that in order to ensure the independence of the judiciary the apprehension that the Executive being largest litigant, it is likely to misuse the power to prosecute the Judges. Any complaint against a Judge and investigation by the CBI if given publicity, will have a far reaching effect on the Judge and the litigant public. The need, therefore, is of judicious use of action taken under the Act. There cannot be registration of any FIR against a High Court Judge or Chief Justice of the High Court or the Supreme Court Judge without the consultation of the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and, in case there is an allegation against Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, the decision has to be taken by the Hon’ble President, in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the said decision. Continue reading “Frivolous Public Interest Litigation must be avoided!”→
Cricket, it is said, is a synonym for gentlemanliness which means discipline, fair play, modest and high standard of morality. The ever increasing interest in the game of Cricket in our country has raised issues of its regulation, control and management. In our country the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), a registered Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, exercises sufficient control on all aspects of game of Cricket and has framed various Code of Conduct for all who are associated with it. Highlighting the importance of BCCI, Justice T.S. Thakur, as he then was, in Board of Control for Cricket in India vs. Cricket Association of Bihar and others, (2015) 3 SCC 251, stated following:
“103. BCCI is a very important institution that discharges important public functions. Demands of institutional integrity are, therefore, heavy and need to be met suitably in larger public interest. Individuals are birds of passage while institutions are forever. The expectations of the millions of cricket lovers in particular and public at large in general, have lowered considerably the threshold of tolerance for any mischief, wrongdoing or corrupt practices which ought to be weeded out of the system.”
In exercise of jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, this Court does not normally reappreciate the evidence and findings of fact; but where the findings of the High Court are perverse or the findings are likely to result in excessive hardship, the Supreme Court would not decline to interfere merely on the ground that findings in question are findings of fact. After referring to various judgments on the scope in exercise of power under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, in Mahesh Dattatray Thirthkar v. State of Maharashtra (2009) 11 SCC 141, this Court in para (35) summarized the principles as under:-
“35. From a close examination of the principles laid down by this Court in the aforesaid series of decisions as referred to hereinabove on the question of exercising power to interfere with findings of fact by this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, the following principles, therefore, emerge:
• The powers of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India are very wide.
The main reason because of which the NHAI lost in those proceedings was that two possible interpretations could be given to the clause in question and, therefore, the recourse taken by the Arbitral Tribunal by adopting one particular interpretation was not required to be interfered with. SLP against that was dismissed. In a situation like this, this Court would not have undertaken further exercise in the matter. However, another Arbitral Tribunal in the case of M/s. Ssangyong Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. has accepted the other view, which goes in favour of the NHAI. It leads to an anomalous situation. The NHAI has entered into multiple contracts with different parties containing the same clauses of price variation. Once we find that Arbitral Tribunals are taking different views, and the view taken in favour of the NHAI is also one of the possible interpretations, the effect thereof would be to uphold both kinds of awards even when they are conflicting in nature in respect of the same contractual provision. It may not be appropriate to countenance such a situation which needs to be remedied. Therefore, under this peculiar situation, we deem it proper to go into the exercise of interpreting the said clause so that there is a uniformity in the approach of the Arbitral Tribunals dealing with this particular dispute and a sense of certainty is attached in the outcomes. Continue reading “Interpretation of Price Adjustment aka Price Escalation/Variation Clause”→
Section 9 of CPC exclude jurisdiction of Civil Court:
Futile attempts have been made by respondent no. 4 only to see that the allottees are harassed and to keep the litigation pending. After the final notification, an award was passed and compensation was deposited. Possession was taken and the same was evidenced by the Panchanama prepared as far back as 23.09.1986. Notification under Section 16(2) of the Land Acquisition Act was issued on 20.01.1987 disclosing the factum of taking possession of the land in question. Attempt made by respondent no. 4 for getting the disputed land de-notified has also failed as far back as 15.01.1993, when the State Government has rejected the representation of respondent no. 4 seeking de-notification. The writ petition filed by respondent no. 4 challenging such order of dismissal of the representation was also dismissed. Despite the same, respondent no. 4 is pursuing the matter by filing writ petition after writ petition. It is a clear case of abuse of process of law as well as the Court.
Judiciary enjoys neither the legislative nor executive power. Its duty is to preserve Constitution, its mandates and make the people wielding power to act within limits provided by the Constitution and make them directly accountable for their acts to the authorities provided under the hierarchy of Constitution. It is said constitution is just to be common sense of the people and was never designed for trial of logical skills or visionary speculation.
Once the limits are imposed by law or Legislature, consequences are inevitable. The acts can only be done in accordance with the enactment. Judges’ morality or morality of one section may be pernicious. Courts cannot impose their views for the governance of the people who have a right to be governed by law or elective representatives but not by an unelected representatives and unaccountable committee of lawyers applying no will but their own. Continue reading “Role of Judiciary in Democracy”→
Whenever a person approaches a Court of Equity, in the exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction, it is expected that he will approach the said court not only with clean hands but also with a clean mind, a clean heart and clean objectives.
Thus, he who seeks equity must do equity. The legal maxim “Jure Naturae Aequum Est Neminem cum Alterius Detrimento Et Injuria Fieri Locupletiorem”, means that it is a law of nature that one should not be enriched by causing loss or injury to another.
The judicial process cannot become an instrument of oppression or abuse, or a means in the process of the court to subvert justice, for the reason that the court exercises its jurisdiction, only in furtherance of justice. The interests of justice and public interest coalesce, and therefore, they are very often one and the same. A petition or an affidavit containing a misleading and/or an inaccurate statement, only to achieve an ulterior purpose, amounts to an abuse of process of the court.
The quest for personal gain has become so intense that those involved in litigation do not hesitate to seek shelter of falsehood, misrepresentation and suppression of facts in the course of court proceedings. A litigant who attempts to pollute the stream of justice, or who touches the pure fountain of justice with tainted hands, is not entitled to any relief, interim or final. Continue reading “Are you abusing the process of court?”→