Decided on May 17,2003



N.S.SINGH, J. - (1.)By way of Public Interest Litigation, for short PIL, the writ petitioner Shri Hem Lall Bhandari approached this Court with this writ petition questioning the validity of the impugned Notifications dated 15/12/1998 as in Annexure P-2 and P-3 to the Writ Petition which was later on withdrawn by the authority concerned under the related Notification dated 12th August 2002 as in Annexure P-5, coupled with a prayer for declaring the entire amount on account of house rent and conveyance allowances drawn by Hon'ble Mr. Justice R. Dayal, Chief Justice of this Court, Respondent No. 2 herein by virtue of the impugned Notifications as in Annexure P-2 and P-3 is liable to be refunded by Respondent No. 2 with interest thereon and with a further direction to the C.B.I. to inquire into the affairs and the alleged tampering and manipulation of Certificate of Registration of official vehicle NO. SK-02/0006 and to probe and book the wrong doers by contending, inter alia,
(a) that, the petitioner is an Advocate, a permanent resident of Rumtek, East District, Sikkim and is keenly interested in the diligent discharge of his fundamental duties cast upon him by clause (h) and (j) of Article 51-A of the Constitution of India and the filing of the present Writ Petition by way of PIL has been inspired by the inaugural address of His Excellency the President of India on 26th April 2003 in the e Seminar on "Access to Justice" organized by the Supreme Court Advocates-on-record Association and supported by the United Nations Development Programme as seen in the document marked as Annexure P-1 to the Writ Petition;

(b) that, the State Government of Sikkim provided furnished residence for the Chief Justice at Balwakhani, Gangtok and the Puisne Judge of the High Court of Sikkim at Bhanupath, Gangtok and both the official residences of the Chief Justice and the Puisne Judge had all along been under the care of the High Court and maintained by the State and in the year 1997-98 the Registry of the High Court spent about Rs. 1,90,000.00 for furnishing the official residence of the Chief Justice; and

(c) that, after Respondent No. 2 was elevated as permanent Chief Justice of the High Court in February 1999, he has been in occupation of a well-furnished, spacious official residence (Bungalow No. 11) situated in the VIP colony provided by the Government and in spite of occupying a well furnished official residence provided by the Government, Respondent No. 2 herein has drawn house rent allowance at the rate of Rs. 10,000.00 per month in separate bills, from the month of assuming the post till 11th August 2002, and as a pretext to draw house rent at the rate of Rs. 10,000.00 per month in spite of occupying a well-furnished official residence, a Notification dated 15/12/1998 was got issued by Respondent No. 1 on the incorrect and dishonest plea that since a befitting and suitable official residence could not be provided, the Hon'ble Judges would be entitled to draw house rent allowance at the rate of Rs. 10,000.00 per month and they would pay rent at the rate of Rs. 1,000.00 only per month for the official residence in occupation; and

(d) that, those official residences could not become unsuitable and befitting as official residence of the Hon'ble Judges, and apparently, the Notification dated 15-12-1998 (Annexure P-2 and P-3) was issued by the Respondent No. 1 on the incorrect plea that suitable and befitting official residence could not be provided to the Hon'ble Judges, was nothing but a clever device to favour the Hon'ble Judges with undue financial benefit to enable them to draw income-tax free house-rent at the rate of Rs. 10,000.00 per month while occupying and enjoying the well-furnished spacious official residence; and

(e) that, in spite of being provided with an official car bearing Registration No. SK-02/0006 and driven by a Government paid uniformed chauffeur and enjoying the same benefit, the Respondent No. 2 herein drew at the rate of Rs. 10,000.00 per month as income-tax free conveyance allowances from February 1999 to 30/06/2000 and at the rate of Rs. 12,000.00 per month from 1/07/2000 to 30/08/2001 and at the rate of Rs. 15,000.00 per month from 24th May 2002 till date while continuously using the aforesaid Government vehicle by virtue of Notification dated 24th May 2002 (Annexure P-4); and

(f) that, the drawal of house rent allowance and conveyance allowances by Respondent No. 2 during the aforesaid period tantamounts to appropriation of Government; and

(g) that, with a view to cover up the illegal drawal of conveyance allowance in spite of being provided with an official staff car driven by Government paid chauffeur, the record of registration of Government vehicle No. SK-02/0006 attached to the Hon'ble Chief Justice as his official car, which was registered on 21/03/1990, has been tampered with and manipulated to depict the said Government vehicle as the 'private car' of respondent No. 2; and

(h) that, the impugned Notification dated 15/12/1998 (Annexure P-2 and P-3) were challenged in the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 331 of 2002 and that after receipt of notice of the aforesaid Petition, the Respondent No. 1 by a Notification dated 12th August 2002 (Annexure P-5) withdrew the aforesaid Notifications dated 15/12/1998 and declared the bungalow in occupation of Respondent No. 2 as the official residence of the Chief Justice, High Court of Sikkim and in view of withdrawal of Notifications dated 15/12/1998 showering undue financial benefits to Respondent No. 2 by Notification dated 12th August 2002, the said Writ Petition (Civil) No. 331 of 2002 pending in the Supreme Court became infructuous and was accordingly dismissed as withdrawn.

(2.)It is also the case of the writ petitioner that as the ex-facie illegal Notifications dated 15/12/1998 (Annexure P-2 and P-3) have been withdrawn by Respondent No. 1, the Respondent No. 2 cannot be allowed to enjoy the undue and illegal benefit of those Notifications already obtained by him by way of house-rent and conveyances and he is duty bound to refund the amounts totaling about Rs. 8,50,000.00 with interest thereon, to the Public Exchequer.
(3.)That at the very outset the respondents particularly respondents No. 1, 3 and 5 raised Preliminary Objection to the maintainability of the present Writ Petition by filing separate written Preliminary Objection by the Respondents No. 1 and 5 on the one hand and a similar objection by the Respondent No. 3 on the other hand by contending inter alia, that the present Writ Petition is not filed bona fide by a public spirited person to ventilate some public interest but is a private interest litigation to project the personal interest of the petitioner, the political party he represents, the unscrupulous elements he supports and to terrorize the members of the Subordinate Judiciary of the State so that the members of the Subordinate Judiciary may deliver judgment according to his whims and the petitioner though he claims himself to be a Harvard educated lawyer, he does not have a single brief in the High Court and he is an active member of the Sikkim Sangram Parishad Political Party headed by Shri N.B. Bhandari, who (Shri N.B. Bhandari) and seven other persons questioned the validity of the related order framing the charges in connection with the corruption cases before this Court under Criminal Revision Nos. 5 of 2003 and 1 to 4 of 2003 which were dismissed on 1st May 2003 by the Division Bench of this Court headed by the Respondent No. 2 and by the reasons of such dismissal of the Criminal Revision cases, the writ petitioner soon after the dismissal of the Criminal Revisions of a prominent leader of his political party who could not get a favourable order from this Court, filing the present Writ Petition was merely done in order to bring disrepute to the Hon'ble High Court and as such it could not be said to be in public interest and this fact further get support from the fact that though the petition was filed on 9th May 2003 in the afternoon, a news item was published in a News Magazine North Eastern Weekend Review (9-15 May 2003) which must have been printed before 8th May 2003 wrongly stating that the Writ Petition was filed on 8th May 2003 and moreover the Writ Petitioner gave publicity of it by holding press conference on 11th May 2003 and this clearly shows the mala fide intention of the petitioner and that the Writ Petition contains false, frivolous, scandalous and contemptuous allegations made deliberately and intentionally to bring disrepute to the judiciary which amounts to Contempt of Court.

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