Thursday, April 24, 2008
Is the SC against whistle-blowers who use the PIL?
In the recent Chief Justices Conference held in New Delhi, Resolution No.12, passed at the Conference, asked the High Courts to strictly follow the Judgment given in Divine Retreat Centre vs. State of Kerala & Ors., delivered by Justices Kapadia and Sudarshan Reddy on March 11 this year. This judgment frowns on the practice of accepting anonymous petitions as PILs, and issuing of directions on that basis, without hearing the other party. In this case, the anonymous petititon accepted by the Judge, also annexed the relevant newspaper clippings, and VCDs etc. to convince the Judge that the Police investigation into a crime was not impartial, and that the Court must order an investigation by a Special Investigation Team. The Supreme Court's stipulation that the Judge concerned must have placed the petition before the Chief Justice, rather than decide the petition himself makes perfect sense. But its general observations against entertaining anonymous petitions using the PIL route, may suffer from over-generalisation. How else will whistle-blowers bring a case of injustice or wrong-doing to the notice of the appropriate authorities, in order to bring out the facts, and seek redressal? The option of approaching an NGO, or the Legal Aid forums may not make sense to a petitioner, who perceives threats if anonymity is compromised.