• SC imposes a fine of Rs 5 lakh on frivolous PIL

    March 08, 2017

    The Supreme Court has taken a strong stand by imposing a fine of Rs 5 lakhs on a litigant who files a frivolous and scrupulous Public Interest Litigation (PILs) in the court.

    The decision came after the SC bench consisting of Chief Justice J.S Khehar, D.Y Chandrachud and S.K Kaul were deliberating upon how the free access to justice has led to chaos and indiscipline in the system and people have started using PIL as a source to delay litigation and delivery of justice.

    An institutional approach was much required to penalize people who file frivolous petitions and waste the valuable time of the court.

    "The sanctity of the judicial process will be seriously eroded if such attempts are not dealt with firmly. A litigant who takes liberties with the truth or with the procedures of the Court should be left in no doubt about the consequences to follow," the bench said.

    Justice Chandrachud, who wrote the judgement, was of the opinion that a strong message was required to be sent out to the litigants informing them that they would have to pay the price for pursuing frivolous litigation to ensure that others should not venture along the same path in the hope of judicial leniency. He said that exemplary costs were necessary and inevitable as far as the present states of affairs are concerned.

    "Frivolous and groundless filings constitute a serious menace to the administration of justice. They consume time and clog the infrastructure. Productive resources which should be deployed in the handling of genuine causes are dissipated in attending to cases filed only to benefit from delay, by prolonging dead issues and pursuing worthless causes," the judgement said.

    The matter came to the knowledge of the court when a tenant refused to abide by a Bombay High Court order to vacate the premises and filed multiple applications to delay the implementation of court's order.
    The bench further expressed its concern over such frivolous PILs by stating that it is the duty of every court to firmly deal with such situations. The imposition of exemplary costs is a necessary instrument which has to be deployed to weed out, as well as prevent the filing of frivolous cases.

    “It is only then that the courts can set apart time to resolve genuine causes and answer the concerns of those who are in need of justice. Imposition of real time costs is also necessary to ensure that access to courts is available to citizens with genuine grievances. Otherwise, the doors would be shut to legitimate causes simply by the weight of undeserving cases which flood the system," the court said.


    The fine imposed by the SC was a much required step to curb the filing of frivolous and scrupulous PILs that exploit the provision of access to free justice available to all in the country. But at the same time, it is an inherent duty as well as an obligation on the courts to ensure that the legitimate grievances of the people are not ignored under the burden of these unwanted PILs that abuse the sanctity of law and justice.

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