Can there be a body only for filing PILs, Centre asks SC

Can there be a body only for filing PILs, Centre asks SC

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday wondered before the Supreme Court whether there could be an organisation whose sole work is to file PILs in violation of norms laid down by the SC, which had devised the instrument to allow representational litigation for judicial redressal of rights violation of poor and destitute.

The target was advocate

Prashant Bhushan

spearheaded Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which has filed many PILs including on Covid-19. The Centre’s affidavit detailed the massive governmental response to the


situation and why

PM Cares Fund

money cannot be transferred to

National Disaster Response Fund

and then took potshots at CPIL.

“SC must visit the question as to whether there can be a permanent body set up only to file PILs on issues which the said body subjectively considers to be ‘public interest’,” the Centre said.

Solicitor general

Tushar Mehta

told a bench of

Justices Ashok Bhushan

, R S Reddy and M R Shah that the government has not argued CPIL locus standi in the court prior to the bench reserving verdict, and hence he did not want this issue to be decided. However, the Centre said when genuine non-professional PIL petitioners were already before the SC on the same issues, why should CPIL’s PIL be entertained.

This is not the first time questions have been raised about CPIL being a professional PIL litigant. On January 12, 2016, a bench headed by then CJI T S Thakur had asked Bhushan how filing of PILs could be the sole activity of an NGO or professional body like CPIL, which then had challenged allocation of 4G spectrum to

Reliance Industries

Ltd’s Jio.

The bench had said, “Prashant Bhushan, you have an image of a crusader. But can you become the centre for public interest litigation? Can the system be taken for a ride in such a manner? We cannot allow this. We must be satisfied that you have a committee which scrutinizes the complaints and allows only genuine ones to be converted into public interest litigations. Has this matter been examined by the committee?”

“We must have the confidence that when CPIL files a petition, it is not prompted by someone who has a vested interest even though the cause may appear genuine. If a corporate rival gives documents for filing a PIL, w

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