Delhi HC chastises advocate for filing PIL without any “groundwork” and “without any thought to it”

THE Delhi High Court on May 11 reprimanded the advocate who had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) without any “groundwork” and “without any thought to it”.

Advocate Anurag Chauhan had filed a PIL seeking a direction to the Central Government to take effective measures to provide financial aid including food, shelter and medicines etc., to sex workers, lesbians, bisexuals, gay and transgender people in Delhi, for their survival during the Covid-19 pandemic; the constitution of a Committee for their rehabilitation has also been sought. The petitioner had also sought steps for exemption of rent of such persons who are living as tenants in Delhi.

A division bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal noted in its order “When we asked the counsel for the petitioner, for whose benefit the petition has been filed and how much people/persons are to be identified, he had no clue and appears to be thunderstruck by the question”.

“When asked, whether any separate register is maintained of such persons, as indeed cannot be, again the petitioner has no idea. We asked the Petitioner, whether such persons would come forward to identify themselves; he is again unable to say anything whatsoever except for stating that such task should also be assigned to the respondent”, the bench said.

“With respect to the relief of suspension of rent, their landlords have not been impleaded and the petitioner, in spite of being an Advocate, has not thought, how an order of suspension of rent payable by such persons to others can be passed in the absence of such others”, a division bench headed by Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw noted.

Further, the court observed “though the rules framed by this court with respect to PILs require the petitioner to not only disclose earlier PILs filed but also outcome thereof but the petitioner, paying mere lip service to the said requirement, has pleaded that the earlier PILs filed by him have been “disposed off”. He is even now not telling whether the earlier petitions have been dismissed”.

In its order, the court also recorded “The respondent, as well as the state governments, have already brought out several schemes to alleviate hardship to the citizens in the wake of Covid-19. The Supreme Court and other courts have also issued directions wherever required. The persons for whose benefit this petition has been filed are also entitled to such schemes and the benefit of the directions and it is not the case that they are being discriminated against”.

Considering the young age of the petitioner, the court allowed him to withdraw the petition and refrained from imposing costs on him but on the condition that the petitioner, if files any other public interest litigation in his name or on behalf of anybody else, to file a copy of present order along-with the present PIL and mention this order prominently, in the synopsis as well as in the body of such fresh petition if any.