The Supreme Court in the case Sarthi Seva Sangh & Anr v Mumbai Municipal Corporation and Ors observed and has remarked that the PILs were becoming an instrument of blackmail when infrastructural and building projects were concerned.
The bench comprising of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha was hearing the matter.
In the present case, an appeal was filed against the Bombay High Court order which had imposed costs of Rs 1 lakh on a society for filing a PIL devoid of any public interest. In the matter, the petitioner, Sarthi Seva Sangh had moved the Bombay High Court, wherein challenging redevelopment of a plot at Worli, citing ecological concerns. Once the Memorandum of Association of the petitioner society is read by the High Court, it is found that promoting ecology was not the society’s object. Therefore, the court stated that the petitioners had not approached the Court with clean hands, the PIL was dismissed by the Bombay High Court with Rs 1 lakh costs.
However, the present appeal was filed against the said order. At the Outset, the bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud remarked, ‘Why this particular project has been chosen? Then it is becoming a problem. There will be somebody who is going to try and use this as a handle. And sometimes it is known by the High Court why someone has come there and we must trust the High Court.
Further, the CJI expressed his dissatisfaction with the plea and has stated that, What they’re saying is that when there is an illegality which is not being confined to a particular project, then the issue must be challenged as a matter of policy– either the fungible FSI or the DCRs. When you pick up one project, the danger is, and this is a reality, whether it is in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, the property is like a gold mine. So people are coming in terms of PIL and that is being like a handle to sort of squeeze the builder and squeeze the developer.
The CJI, while highlighting the issue with the main PILs stated that, this court is not satisfied with the locus. As now PILs are becoming an instrument of blackmail where the infrastructural projects are concerned, or where the building projects are concerned. Because as you see, the real estate developer with some money, the whole PIL project can be used to deflect that project. So if you have a problem with fungible FSI, challenge the broader context and do not target of the particular projects like this. Thus, this High Court being absolutely right. As they have smelled the rat and smelled it very correctly.
Accordingly, the court directed the party to pay the cost which is imposed by the High Court.