Frivolous, unconnected PILs must stop, says an annoyed Supreme Court

Miffed by a series of frivolous and unconnected public interest litigations, the Supreme Court threatens imposing costs in some, imposes costs in others. 


ON Tuesday, a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha expressed its displeasure at the proliferation of frivolous public interest litigations presented before them. 

The Bench described them as a waste of the court’s time. 

The trigger was a PIL filed by a law student, Harsh Gupta, seeking to abolish use of male pronouns from the Constitution of India.

The moment the petition was called out for hearing, CJI D.Y. Chandrachud expressed his displeasure towards the petition and observed, “We should start imposing costs now because our time is wasted.”

The Bench also wondered whether it could strike down the provisions of the Constitution merely because they use the word chairman instead of chairperson. 

Gupta, who was appearing in person, submitted that the use of gender-neutral pronouns in the judiciary and laws has become a practice in many countries.

Justice Narasimha intervened to question the need for the petitioner to raise the issue. The court also wanted to know which fundamental right of the petitioner was violated when he filed a petition under Article 32.

The petitioner fumbled and stated that the non-usage of gender-neutral pronouns violated Article 14 of the Constitution.

CJI Chandrachud retorted that using the expression chairman in the Constitution does not mean that a woman would not be appointed. “Even a woman can be appointed,” the CJI added.

The petitioner however contended that the framers of the Constitution made the presumption that only males would be appointed.

An unimpressed Bench proceeded to dismiss the petition just stopping short of imposing costs as the petitioner was merely a law student.

In another set of  PILs filed by an advocate seeking to reclassify the caste system and phase out the reservation system to replace it by some alternate mode, the Bench dismissed both the PILs while imposing costs of 25,000 each. 

These kinds of PILs must stop,” the CJI remarked. 

Justice Narasimha further stated that the second PIL about phasing out the reservation system was even worse. 

These two PILs were filed by advocate Sachin Gupta.

Another PIL which challenged certain sections of the Hindu Succession Act,1956 was also dismissed by the court. 

While dismissing the PIL, the court noted that the petitioner S. Venkatesh could not demonstrate how he was being affected by the provisions of Hindu Succession Act.

“These are [matters of] personal laws dealing with inheritance and we cannot hear them without context here,”  the CJI remarked.