For several years,litigants,lawyers and judges in Delhis courts have seen an elderly lawyer carrying a large bag of documents around and filing petitions against the President,Prime Minister,former judges and other senior government functionaries. The allegations range from offences ranging from looting the lawyer to conspiring with his landlord to get him thrown out of his rented house.
Now,the Delhi High Court has ordered the government to provide the lawyer with accommodation and psychiatric treatment,while barring him from approaching any court of law without prior permission.
Noting that the right to access courts can be restricted as long as the restrictions pursue a legitimate and proportionate aim,the Delhi High Court has issued orders that no court will take cognisance of any petitions filed by advocate Uma Shankar Pandey.
The court of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and V Kameswar Rao heard Pandey for over six hours across three days,and have directed the Delhi government to ensure that he is accommodated at a rehabilitation home and given psychiatric help.
We direct the director of the Social Welfare department of the Government of NCT Delhi to forthwith provide boarding and lodging to Uma Shankar Pandey at a suitable rehabilitation home. A psychiatrist would be provided to interact with him with a view to free him from the escalating psychosomatic maladies…, the court said.
The lawyer,who has on occasion threatened to commit suicide in court,had filed several dozen cases before various courts,claiming that his PhD thesis in International Law had been looted from his room at Teen Murti Bhavan in 1997.
He had blamed several senior politicians,bureaucrats and other eminent persons for the incident.
Pandey has filed 135 separate cases in various courts in the city since 1999. The case record of the writ petition filed by Pandey in the High Court in 1997 also runs into over 4,200 pages.
Drawing a distinction between access to court s and the access to justice,the Delhi High Court has quashed all proceedings in the cases filed by Pandey. However,the court has allowed him to access the court for the hearings in the case filed against his eviction from his rented residence.
Access to justice is a social and fundamental right and is treated in mature democracies as a precursor for existence and survival of the rule of law, noted the court. However,the court held that access to a court can be subject to limitations as long as they do not impair the very essence of the right to access to the courts and as long as the restrictions pursue a legitimate and proportionate aim.