T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India - Supreme Court Case

 T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India - Important Supreme Court Cases 2006


Landmark Case on Environment 


On 10th April, 2006, a three Judges Bench in T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India & Ors. [ IA Nos. 989, 1221 & 1331 in IA Nos.857-858 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 202 of 1995] examined the bonafides of a person who in purported public interest filed application before this Court alleging that the State of Chhattisgarh had unlawfully leased forest land for setting up of a coal washery plant. On perusal of the record, the Bench held that the applicant had been “set up by others” and was “nothing but a name lender” and strongly deprecated the filing of an “entirely misconceived and malafide application in the garb of public interest litigation” by him. The Bench said that “the applicant has abused the process of law and deserves to be sternly dealt with” and that “enormous judicial time has been wasted which could have been used for deciding other cases.” It further said that it also resulted in the Central Empowered Committee(CEC) [which had been directed by the Court to enquire into the matter], and others “incurring huge expenses and their wastage of time as well” and accordingly asked the applicant to pay CEC costs quantified at Rupees One Lakh.


Enumerating the basic issues required to be satisfied in every public interest litigation, the Bench said, “howsoever genuine a cause brought before a Court by a public interest litigant may be, the Court has to decline its examination at the behest of a person who, in fact, is not a public interest litigant and whose bonafides and credentials are in doubt. In a given exceptional case, where bonafides of a public interest litigant are in doubt, the Court may still examine the issue having regard to the serious nature of the public cause and likely public injury, even if the bona fides of the litigant was in doubt, by appointing an Amicus Curiae to assist the Court, but under no circumstances with the assistance of a doubtful public interest litigant.” The Bench said that “no trust can be placed by Court on a mala fide applicant in public interest litigation.”

Landmark Cases of India

On 10th May, 2006, a three Judges Bench in T. N. Godavarman Thirumulpad Through the Amicus Curiae vs Ashok Khot and Anr. [Contempt Petition (Civil) No.83 of 2005] sentenced the Minister-incharge as also the Principal Secretary, Department of Forest, Government of Maharashtra at the relevant point of time for contempt. The two contemnors were each sentenced to a months simple imprisonment for permitting resumption of operations by six saw mills/ veneer and plywood industries in the State of Maharashtra in direct contravention of the earlier orders of this Court. The Bench held that both the contemnors “deliberately flouted the orders of this Court in a brazen manner”. Rejecting the “explanations of the contemnors” it held that “mens rea” was “writ large”. The Bench said “this is a case where not only right from the beginning attempt has been made to overreach the orders of this Court but also to draw red-herrings. Still worse is the accepted position of inserting a note in the official file with oblique motives.That makes the situation worse. In this case the contemnors deserve severe punishment. This will set an example for those who have propensity of dis-regarding the court’s orders because of their money power, social status or posts held.”

Landmark Cases of India

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