MANI SHANKAR PANDEY Vs. UNION OF INDIA
HIGH COURT OF CHHATTISGARH
Mani Shankar Pandey
UNION OF INDIA
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(1.) THIS case brings to the fore how a noble, laudable and public justice- oriented legal process, that is what we call "Public interest Litigation" which is
essentially and initially meant to provide legal representation to previously
unrepresented groups and citizens, can be misused and abused by unscrupulous
persons, without any element of public interest either in their heart or in mind, to
have their own axe to grind against an individual for an oblique consideration and
as a vexatious measure.
(2.) THE facts are simple, and in brief, they are : The petitioner is a permanent resident of Maharana Pratap Nagar, Tifra in Bilaspur City. The petitioner claiming
to be a pro bono public character has filed this writ petition as a Public Interest
Litigation (hereinafter referred to as "the PIL") to espouse cause of the public at
large. The petitioner has stated that the fifth respondent is a business concern
which is running a fuel outlet in Bilaspur and at present that fuel outlet is situate at
Vyapar Vihar in Bilaspur City. The fifth respondent made an application to the
Collector and District Magistrate, Bilaspur for no objection certificate to shift the
fuel outlet from the existing place to the premises bearing Nos. 1435/1, 1435/2,
1436 and 1459. The fourth respondent has granted 'no objection certificate' to the fifth respondent. It is alleged that the fifth respondent is shifting fuel outlet in
utter violation of the guidelines and norms prescribed in Circular No. RW/NH-
33023/19/99-Do III dated 31st August 2000 issued by the National Highways Authority. It is also alleged that the fifth respondent did not apply to the Ministry
of Road Transport & Highways, the second respondent herein, for shifting and
setting up Fuel Outlet at a new place as required under the circular dated 31st
August 2000. It is further alleged that if the fifth respondent is permitted to shift
Fuel Outlet, it will be totally dangerous to public safety and road safety and it
would also cause inconvenience to motorists traveling on National Highway No.
200 from Bilaspur resulting in frequent accidents. In the premise of the above allegations, the petitioner has prayed for the following reliefs :
"In view of facts stated above and the petitioner prays for the following reliefs : (0 That no objection certificate issued by respondent No. 4 for setting up of fuel station with diesel retail outlet at Khasra No. 1435/1, 1435/2,1436,1459 area 18525 sq. ft., Sec. C. CSIDC Tifra - Sirgitti dated 05-03-05 may be cancelled and quashed in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience. (ii) That the Hon'ble Court be pleased to issue any other writ or writs, order or orders, direction or directions deemed fit in the interest of justice."
This Court having entertained the writ petition, by its interim order dated 24-06-2005, directed that pending disposal of the writ petition, the work for setting up of fuel station with diesel retail outlet at Khasra Nos. 1435/1, 1435/2.
1436 and 1459 may continue, but will be entirely at the risk of respondent No. 5.
(3.) ON service of notice respondents 1 and 2, namely, Union of India and Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, respectively, put in appearance and filed
their return on 26-07-2005 virtually reiterating the allegations made by the petitioner
and supporting the writ petition. Respondent No 5 also on service of notice put
in appearance through his counsel and filed an application on 27-07-2005 for
vacating the interim order dated 24-06-2005. In the said application, the fifth
respondent while denying all material allegations leveled against if by the petitioner
has alleged that the petitioner is not a pro bono public character; the petitioner
never espoused any cause by way of a PIL earlier; the petitioner is a contractor
and the fifth respondent supplied petrol, diesel and automobile oil to the petitioner
on credit basis between 22-05-1997 and 25-07-2004 and he did not clear the
bills for Rs. 1,11,735.12 paisa. When the fifth respondent demanded payment of
outstanding dues, the petition being annoyed by the said demand and in order to
harm him, he has filed the writ petition under the garb of PEL. It is also stated that
the proprietor of the fifth respondent is a scheduled caste person and the petitioner
has been torturing him mentally not only by not paying outstanding dues but also
subjecting him to vexatious litigation. The fifth respondent has also produced bills
as documents No. 1 to show that the petitioner has drawn petrol, diesel and
motor vehicles' oil from the Fuel Outlet owned by it. It is also alleged that the
status claimed by the petitioner that he is a social worker and pro bono public
character and he has been espousing the causes for protecting the public interest
are all utterly false and the present writ petition is filed as a vexatious measure to
harm the innocent fifth respondent.;
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