“NGOs are making fun of this court,” an anguished bench of the Supreme Court observed on Tuesday as it slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on an organisation for espousing the cause of financially well-off land owners by filing a “frivolous” PIL on their behalf.
The apex court imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on the NGO for filing the PIL on behalf of 10 Assam-based land owners, whose land was acquired by the state for constructing a two-lane road under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in the north-eastern region (SARDP-NE).
“NGOs are making fun of this court by filing frivolous petitions. This is the Supreme Court. You are an NGO and espousing the cause of landlords who are well versed and have enough money to fight their litigations,” the bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
It pulled up the NGO for “making mockery of the court” and asked it to deposit the money with the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) which will use it in upgrading the library. “We are dismissing it with a cost. You (NGO) will have to suffer the consequences. You must pay the cost for wasting judicial time and making fun of the court. You are making mockery of the system. You must respect the court,” it said.
The PIL was filed by NGO Indigenous Bio Diversity and Human Rights Organisation at the behest of 10 dissatisfied land owners whose land was sought to be acquired by the Public Works Department for a proposed 2-lane road under the SARDP-NE programme.
The Guwahati High Court had last year dismissed the PIL after which the NGO decided to move the apex court against it. The apex court, however, said, that the high court had “rightly decided” the case and noted that except the 10 land owners, approximately 130 others were satisfied with the compensation promised to them in lieu of the acquired land.
“The instant petition has been preferred as against the impugned order passed by the High Court on April 1, 2016 with a delay of 319 days. We are satisfied that the instant petition is clearly motivated and is an abuse of the legal process. We are satisfied that the High Court was fully justified in rejecting the claim advanced by the petitioner as a cause in public interest.
“We affirm the position expressed by the High Court in the impugned order. Since the petitioner has not refrained himself from abusing the legal process, we are of the view, that the petitioner should be burdened with costs for filing the instant petition,” the bench said.