STATE OF JHARKHAND Versus SHIV SHANKAR SHARMA & ORS.

STATE OF JHARKHAND  Versus SHIV SHANKAR SHARMA & ORS.

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. OF 2022
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS. 10622-10623 OF 2022)
STATE OF JHARKHAND ... APPELLANT
Versus
SHIV SHANKAR SHARMA & ORS. ... RESPONDENTS
 WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. OF 2022
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS.11364-11365 OF 2022)
J U D G M E N T
Sudhanshu Dhulia, J.
Leave granted.
1. The above two petitions have been filed before this Court by
the State of Jharkhand through the Resident Commissioner,
challenging the orders dated 03.06.2022 passed by the
Division Bench of the High Court of Jharkhand, where the
High Court has ordered that the PILs filed by respondent no.1
2
before the Jharkhand High Court are maintainable, and thus
the High Court decided to proceed with the matter on its
merits. The petitioner here poses a challenge to the very
maintainability of these two PILs. After hearing the parties at
length, this Court vide its order dated 17.08.2022 had
reserved its orders and directed that meanwhile the High
Court shall not proceed further with the matter.
2. The question before this Court is whether the petitions which
have been filed before the Jharkhand High Court in the form
of Public Interest Litigations are maintainable in view of the
settled position of law laid down by this Court in several of its
earlier decisions. The question is also whether these PILs
comply with the provisions of the Rules relating to the Public
Interest Litigations, which is the Jharkhand High Court (Public
Interest Litigation) Rules, 2010 (for short “Rules, 2010”) and if
they do not, were the petitions filed as PILs liable to be
dismissed at the very threshold if they were not in
compliance of the provisions of the above Rules relating to
PIL.
3. Two public interest litigations petitions were filed before the
Jharkhand High Court by the same person, i.e., Sri Shiv
3
Shankar Sharma. In the first Writ Petition (PIL) No. 4290 of
2021 the following relief was sought: -
“A. For the direction upon the respondents
specially respondent’s especially respondent no.
3
1
to enquire into the money transferred of Soren
Family in the name of respondent no.’s, 8 to 13
and may also submit the report to Income Tax
Department as to how the companies which are 28
in numbers have been used as a parking place for
ill gotten money.
B. For the direction upon the respondent no. 3
to investigate the sources of income of respondent
no. 8 to 13 as because they being the close friends
of Hemant Soren and Basant Soren have invested
the money in number of companies as chain of
hotels as it is shown that the owner is Ranjan Sahu
and the Hotlips chain of hotels and restaurants
which was situated in a small area near the Chief
Minister's residents and later on removed have
transformed into six hotel chains situated at Kanke
Road, Ratan Lal Complex, Ratu Road, Lalpur,
Hinoo and Kamre.
C. For the direction upon the respondent no. 42
also to investigate the financial crime committed
by Hemant Soren which income has given to Ravi
Kejriwal as he is connected to him since childhood
and also having close connection with Ranjan
Sahu, the so called owner of Hotlips Chain of
hotels and restaurants and may also investigate as
at which point of time and place Mr. Hemant Soren
has committed illegality and earned crores of
rupees and invested in the name of these persons.
D. For the direction upon the respondent no. 5
to investigate the money trail of crime proceed
1 Respondent No.3 is the Central Bureau of Investigation.
2 Respondent No.4 is the Enforcement Directorate.
4
lying with respondent no. 8 to 13 and they have
amassed the huge wealth and returning the money
at the time of election to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha
headed by Hemant Soren.
E. For any other of the relief or reliefs as this
Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper in the light
of the facts of this case.”
In the Second Writ Petition (PIL) No. 727 of 2022 the
following relief was sought: -
“A. For the direction upon the respondent No.9 to
grant sanction for prosecution, to prosecute the
“The Chief Minister Cum, Minister Department of
Mines, for act of misuse of office and getting the
Mining Lease done in his own name, although, he
being a Departmental Minister/Chief Minister
cannot do business (Article 191(9) of Constitution)
of mining, and also committed criminal act, so he
is liable to be prosecuted under Section 7(A) and
13(I)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 &
Section 169 of IPC, and also to cancel his
membership of assembly of Jharkhand, and also
he has violated section 9 of the Peoples’
Representation Act, 1950 & lastly, he has
contravened the code of conduct framed by Union
Government for the Hon’ble Chief Minister &
Ministers of States.
B. For the direction upon the respondents
especially respondent No. 1, the Chief Secretary,
Jharkhand to protect the relevant file of
Department of Mines wherein, the mining lease of
Angadha Mauza, Thana No. 26, Khata No. 187, Plot
No. 482, Area 0.88 Acre for that Letter of intent
(LOI) was issued on 16.06.21, approval of mining
plan was given on 10.07.21, mining plan approved
on 09.09.21 & finally on 09.09.21 the respondent
No. 7 has given application, which was approved
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in its 90th meeting dated 14-18 September, 2021,
within such a short time although, the SEIAA has
given environmental clearance to new High Court
building after so many months, ANDA, directions
may be issued to Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) &
Enforcement Directorate to investigate the crime
committed by respondent no. 7 & 8.
C. For the direction upon the respondent CBI
especially also to investigate the history illegal
mining committed by the person like the
respondent No. 7 and due to his influence, illegal
mining is done to public properties sold by Mr.
Soren against the provisions of law to himself only.
D. For any other of the relief or reliefs as this
Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper in the light
of the facts of this case.”
In both these writ petitions the respondents which, inter alia,
included the State of Jharkhand as well as the incumbent
Chief Minister, Mr. Hemant Soren. A preliminary objection as
to the maintainability of the writ petition was raised by these
two respondents. Objections were also raised that the writ
petitions do not disclose the particulars and credentials of the
petitioner nor does it follow the procedure as mandated by
the Rules, i.e., Rule 4, 4A, 4B,5 of the Rules, 2010.
4. Since, the Court nevertheless proceeded with the matter, the
petitioner had earlier filed a petition before this Court
challenging the proceedings before the Jharkhand High
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Court in the form of these two Public Interest Litigations. The
matter came up before a Division Bench of this Court and the
following orders were passed on 24.05.2022 in SLP (C) Nos.
9728-9730 of 2022:
“A batch of three writ petitions is pending
before the Division Bench of the High Court of
Jharkhand:
(i) (In Writ Petition (PIL) No 4632
of 2019; the petitioner, Arun
Kumar Dubey, seeks, inter alia,
a direction to the Directorate of
Enforcement to investigate 15
FIRs pertaining to alleged
offences arising out of the
disbursement of MANREGA
funds to Khunti Zila Parishad
implicating offences under
Sections 406, 409, 420, 423,
429, 465 and 1208 of the Indian
Penal Code and Sections 11.
12(2) and 13(1)(e) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act,
1988;
(ii) In Writ Petition (PIL) No 4290 of
2021; the petitioner, Shiv
Shankar Sharma seeks a
direction for an investigation
into the alleged transfer of SLP
Cr. 9729-9730/2022 monies by
the Soren family in the names
of respondent Nos 8 to 13
through the instrumentality of
certain shell companies; and
7
(iii) In Writ Petition (PIL) No 727 of
2022; the petitioner Shiv
Shankar Sharma seeks a
direction for sanctioning the
prosecution of the Chief
Minister for obtaining a mining
lease in his own name
implicating offences under the
provisions of the Prevention of
Corruption Act, 1988 and the
Indian Penal Code.
5. On 22 April 2022, when Writ Petition
(PIL) No 4290 of 2021 came up before a
Division Bench presided over by the Chief
justice, the Court recorded the submission of
the counsel for the State that "an identical writ
petition was dismissed with costs by this
Court filed by the same counsel and the
matter went up to the Supreme Court" where
the Special Leave Petition was dismissed.
After issuing certain procedural directions for
the impleadement of the Registrar of
Companies, the Division Bench directed that
the proceedings in Writ Petition (PIL) No 4290
of 2021 be placed along with the records of
Writ Petition (PIL) No 4218 of 2013 on 1.3 May
2022.
6. On 13 May, 2022, the High Court, inter
alia, noted the submissions of the State of
Jharkhand objecting to the maintainability of
the petition. This was dealt with in the
following extract:
"At this juncture, Mr Kapil Sibal,
learned Senior Advocate, appearing
for the State of Jharkhand, has made
a submission that he has to raise a
preliminary objection regarding the
maintainability of the case itself.
8
 We would consider the preliminary
objection and then the merit also, if
required, on the next date of hearing"
7. The High Court posted the
proceedings on 17 May 2022. On 17 May
2022, the High Court, after perusing a
sealed cover which was tendered on
behalf of the Directorate of Enforcement,
noted the submission of the petitioner that
WP (PIL) No 4362 of 2019 may be placed
along side the petition which the High
Court was considering on the next date of
hearing and accordingly the proceedings
were adjourned to 19 May 2022. On 19
May 2022, the High Court has passed
separate orders in Writ Petition (PIL) Nos
727 of 2022, 4632 of 2019 and 4290 of 2021.
The High Court posted the proceedings on
24 May 2022.
8. The Special Leave Petitions have
been instituted by the State of Jharkhand in
order to challenge the orders dated 13
May 2022 and 17 May 2022 in Writ Petition
(PIL) No 4290 of 2021.
9. We have heard Mr Kapil Sibal, senior
counsel appearing on behalf of the State of
Jharkhand, Mr Mukul Rohatgi, senior
counsel appearing on behalf of the sixth
respondent (Shri Hemant Soren) and Mr
Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General appearing
on behalf of the Central Bureau of
Investigation and the Directorate of
Enforcement.
10. The sequence of events narrated in
the earlier part of the present order
indicates that the High Court had, by its
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order dated 13 May 2022, specifically
noted that it would consider the primary
objection to the maintainability of Writ
Petition (PIL) No 4290 of 2021 and deal
with the merits thereafter, if required, on
the next date of hearing.
11. Mr Kapil Sibal, senior counsel
appearing on behalf of the petitioner has
adverted to the provisions of the
Jharkhand High Court (Public Interest
Litigation) Rules, 2010, more particularly
the provisions of Rules 4, 4-A, 4-B and 5.
12. Since the High Court has observed in
its order dated 13 May 2022 that it would
deal with the maintainability of the petition
upfront, we are of the considered view that
it would be appropriate in the interests of
justice that the Division Bench presided
over by the learned Chief justice does so
before without proceeding to the merits of
the public interest litigation.
13. The issue of maintainability should be
dealt with by the High Court on the next
date of listing when the proceedings are
taken up. Based on the outcome of the
objections to the maintainability of the
proceedings, the High Court may
thereafter proceed in accordance with
law.
14. The Special Leave Petitions are
disposed of in the above terms.
15. This Court has had no occasion to
deal with the merits of the rival
contentions which arise in the Special
Leave Petitions or nor has it become
necessary for this Court to express any
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view on the allegations which are levelled
in the writ petition since that is a matter
which is pending consideration before the
High Court.
16. Pending applications, if any, stand
disposed of.”
5. Thus, consequent to the orders of this Court dated
24.05.2022, the Jharkhand High Court before proceeding
with the matter had to first give its finding on the
maintainability of the two PILs. The High Court after
hearing the petitioner as well as the respondents has come
to a conclusion that an extremely serious matter has been
raised in the PILs, where there are allegations of largescale corruption at the hands of the present Chief Minister
of Jharkhand, and even though there may be some
procedural irregularities in filing of the public interest
litigations that should not come in the way of the Court in
entertaining the petition, which is in public interest.
Moreover, as to the Rules, (i.e., Rules 4, 4-A, 4-B, 5 of the
Rules, 2010) which we shall refer shortly, it has been held
that they are directory and not mandatory in nature.
Consequently, by order dated 03.06.2022 the Court has
held that the PILs are maintainable and shall be dealt on its
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merit. This order has presently been challenged before
this Court.
6. As referred above we are concerned with two writ petitions
filed by the private respondent No.1 (i.e., Shiv Shankar
Sharma) as Public Interest Litigations before Jharkhand High
Court. The first writ petition is Writ Petition (PIL) No. 4290 of
2021, where a prayer has been made to direct the Directorate
General Income Tax, Investigation to enquire into the money
transferred by the Soren family in the name of private
respondents through the shell companies and also to
investigate the source of income of private respondents and
to investigate the financial crime committed by respondent
No.6 i.e. Hemant Soren, the present Chief Minister of
Jharkhand, among other reliefs sought in the petitions.
7. The second Writ Petition (PIL) No. 727 of 2022 is the one
where a direction has been sought to prosecute the Chief
Minister, who is also the Minister in the Department of Mines.
The reason being that he has misused his office in getting a
mining lease in his own name. As far as the second writ
petition is concerned, a reply has been filed by the State of
Jharkhand before the Jharkhand High Court as well as by the
12
Chief Minister, Mr. Hemant Soren that full facts of the case
have not been stated by the petitioner in the petition and he
has deliberately suppressed the material facts. The mining
lease which is alleged to have been made in favour of the
Chief Minister is on a land situated in Angadha Mauza, Thana
No. 26, Khata No.187, Plot No.482 and the total Area of the
land is only 0.88 Acres. It was allotted to Mr. Hemant Soren
for a period of 10 years between 17.05.2008 to 17.05.2018
after the expiry of the lease period of 10 years an application
for its renewal was made belatedly by Mr. Hemant Soren on
06.06.2018 and by that time the lease had lapsed.
Subsequently by way of Gazette Notification No.1 of 2021
which was issued on 27.03.2021, fresh applications for the
mining lease were invited. A letter of intent was given in
favour of Mr. Hemant Soren on 16.06.2021. All the same on
04.02.2022 the respondent No. 7, i.e., Mr. Hemant Soren
wrote to District Mining Officer, Ranchi for surrendering
mining lease with immediate effect. As per Section 26 of
Jharkhand Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2004 a demand
for advance of six months of royalty to be deposited by Mr.
Hemant Soren and the mining lease was surrendered and was
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accepted under the Rules on 11.02.2022. Therefore,
according to the respondent at the time of filing of the second
writ petition (PIL) No.727 of 2022, there was no mining lease
in favour of respondent No. 7 as it had already stood
surrendered. In its reply dated 05.05.2022, the State of
Jharkhand has also stated that although the lease was
renewed in favour of the Mr. Hemant Soren no mining activity
or extraction of stone took place on the mining lease area.
Further, in this regard if any anomaly has been committed
and respondent No. 7 has to suffer a disqualification from his
office, for having a mining lease in his favour, the matter in
this regard is pending inquiry before the Election
Commission of India in a Reference case No. 3(G) of 2022
which is registered on the reference received from the
Hon’ble Governor of Jharkhand under Article 1923 of the
Constitution of India. The Election Commission of India has
issued a notice to the Chief Secretary on 08.04.2022 seeking
certain information which had been duly supplied by the
3 Article 192. Decision on questions as to disqualifications of members—
(1) If any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a State has become subject
to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause (1) of article 191, the question shall be referred for the
decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final.
(2) Before giving any decision on any such question, the Governor shall obtain the opinion of the Election
Commission and shall act according to such opinion
14
State vide its letter dated 26.04.2022. In other words, this
matter as regarding the mining lease in favour of the Chief
Minister, i.e., Mr. Hemant Soren and his disqualification from
office, is pending consideration with the Election Commission
of India. So much for the second writ petition which in our
view is totally an abuse of the process of this Court.
8. Regarding the first Writ Petition No. (PIL) 4290 of 2021 the
allegations which had been made of money laundering and
money being invested in shell companies are again mere
allegations. The petitioner has actually sought an
investigation by the Court. It prays for a writ of mandamus in
this regard to the Investigating Agencies such as CBI or
Enforcement Directorate to investigate. This in our view is
again an abuse of the process of the Court, as the petition is
short of wild and sweeping allegations, there is nothing
placed before the Court which in any way may be called to
be prima facie evidence. Moreover, the locus of the
petitioner is questionable and the clear fact that he has not
approached the Court with clean hands makes it a case which
was liable to be dismissed at the very threshold.
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9. This Court in Kunga Nima Lepcha v. State of Sikkim4 under
similar circumstances has held that a writ court is not an
appropriate forum for seeking an initiation of such an
investigation. A reference to the facts of Kunga Nima
Lepcha (supra) would be relevant for our purposes. In the
above case, a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution
was filed directly before this Court where the petitioner had
alleged that the incumbent Chief Minister of the State of
Sikkim (impleaded respondent No.2) had misused his public
office and had amassed assets disproportionate to his known
source of income. It was also alleged that the Chief Minister
has misappropriated a large volume of public money at the
cost of Government of India and the Government of Sikkim.
Thus, the relief sought by the petitioner was for issuance of
writ of mandamus directing the CBI to investigate the
allegations that have been made against the Chief Minister.
This Court declined to intervene in the matter holding that a
constitutional court is not a forum to seek redressal of this
nature. The remedies evolved by way of writ jurisdiction are
of extraordinary nature and reliefs cannot be granted as a
4
(2010) 4 SCC 513
16
matter of due course, where the statutory remedies are
available to the petitioner. In Paras 14 to 17 of the judgement
it was said as follows:
“14. In the present petition, the petitioners
have made a rather vague argument that the
alleged acts of corruption on part of Shri
Pawan Chamling amount to an infringement
of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. We
do not find any merit in this assertion
because the guarantee of “equal protection
before the law” or “equality before the law”
is violated if there is an unreasonable
discrimination between two or more
individuals or between two or more classes
of persons. Clearly, the alleged acts of
misappropriation from the public exchequer
cannot be automatically equated with a
violation of the guarantee of “equal
protection before the law”.
15. Furthermore, we must emphasise the fact
that the alleged acts can easily come within
the ambit of statutory offences such as those
of “possession of assets disproportionate to
known sources of income” as well as
“criminal misconduct” under the Prevention
of Corruption Act, 1988. The onus of
launching an investigation into such matters
is clearly on the investigating agencies such
as the State Police, Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) or the Central Vigilance
Commission (CVC) among others. It is not
proper for this Court to give directions for
initiating such an investigation under its writ
jurisdiction.
16. While it is true that in the past, the
Supreme Court of India as well as the various
17
High Courts have indeed granted remedies
relating to investigations in criminal cases,
we must make a careful note of the
petitioners' prayer in the present case. In the
past, writ jurisdiction has been used to
monitor the progress of ongoing
investigations or to transfer ongoing
investigations from one investigating agency
to another. Such directions have been given
when a specific violation of fundamental
rights is shown, which could be the
consequence of apathy or partiality on the
part of investigating agencies among other
reasons. In some cases, judicial intervention
by way of writ jurisdiction is warranted on
account of obstructions to the investigation
process such as material threats to
witnesses, the destruction of evidence or
undue pressure from powerful interests. In
all of these circumstances, the writ court can
only play a corrective role to ensure that the
integrity of the investigation is not
compromised. However, it is not viable for a
writ court to order the initiation of an
investigation. That function clearly lies in the
domain of the executive and it is up to the
investigating agencies themselves to decide
whether the material produced before them
provides a sufficient basis to launch an
investigation.
17. It must also be borne in mind that there
are provisions in the Code of Criminal
Procedure which empower the courts of first
instance to exercise a certain degree of
control over ongoing investigations. The
scope for intervention by the trial court is
hence controlled by statutory provisions and
it is not advisable for the writ courts to
interfere with criminal investigations in the
absence of specific standards for the same.”
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10. This Court, thus declined to interfere in the matter holding
that the petitioner must approach the investigating agencies
directly with the incriminating material and then it is for the
investigating agencies to decide on the further course of
action. Although an apprehension was raised by this Court
that it is possible that the efforts of the petitioner to uncover
alleged corruption may be obstructed by entrenched
interests, yet statutory remedies available to the petitioner
must be first exhausted and only thereafter can he approach
the High Court. In the present case no such effort has been
made by the respondent (i.e., the petitioner in the PIL) to
approach the statutory authorities in any manner whatsoever.
The fundamental requirement for the issuance of a writ of
mandamus is that the petitioner must have sought such a
relief before the appropriate authority and only when it is
denied the Court can be approached for a writ a mandamus.
This principle cannot be ignored merely because this Court
is dealing with a Public Interest Litigation. With regard to the
present Public Interest Litigations before us, it is an admitted
fact that the respondent has not taken any steps in
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approaching the statutory authorities or made any effort in
the registration of an FIR.
11. Public Interest Litigation was a novel form adopted by this
Court in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s to hear the
grievances of the vast section of the society which were poor,
marginalized and had no means to reach the Supreme Court
for articulating their grievance. It was thus the Public Interest
Litigation which became the means by which a voice was
given to this large voiceless section of our society (See: State
of Uttaranchal v. Balwant Singh Chaufal & Ors.5 M.C.
Mehta v. Union of India & Ors.6
). The strict procedures of
the Court were dispensed in a PIL, and in its early stages a
PIL could also be entertained on a mere letter, or a postcard!
It is for these reasons it has also come to be known as
epistolary jurisdiction. This Court in Balwant Singh Chaufal
(supra) while dealing with origin and development of PIL in
this country has divided its growth into three phases which
has been given in its Para 43 as under: -
“Phase-I: It deals with cases of this Court
where directions and orders were passed
5
(2010) 3 SCC 402
6
(1987) 1 SCC 395
20
primarily to protect fundamental rights
under Article 21 of the marginalized
groups and sections of the society who
because of extreme poverty, illiteracy
and ignorance cannot approach this court
or the High Courts.
Phase-II: It deals with the cases relating to
protection, preservation of ecology,
environment, forests, marine life, wildlife,
mountains, rivers, historical monuments
etc. etc.
Phase-III: It deals with the directions
issued by the Courts in maintaining the
probity, transparency and integrity in
governance.”
This Court then traced the abuse of the Public Interest
Litigation and observed that this important jurisdiction has
come to be abused, at the hands of ill motivated
individuals, busy bodies and publicity seekers. A
reference was then made to the cases of BALCO
Employees’ Union (Regd). v. Union of India & Ors.7 and
Neetu v. State of Punjab8 where frivolous cases filed as
PILs were discouraged and even costs were imposed on
the petitioner in such cases. The credentials of the
applicant who files a PIL was held to be of extreme
importance as also the correctness of the nature of
7
(2002) 2 SCC 333
8
(2007) 10 SCC 614
21
information given by the petitioner which had to be clear,
not vague or indefinite or even generalized. It was also
held that nobody should be allowed to indulge in wild and
reckless allegations, demeaning the character of others.
The following directions were given in Para 181 of Balwant
Singh Chaufal (supra): -
“(1) The Courts must encourage genuine
and bona fide PIL and effectively
discourage and curb the PIL filed for
extraneous considerations.
(2) Instead of every individual Judge
devising his own procedure for dealing
with the public interest litigation, it would
be appropriate for each High Court to
properly formulate rules for encouraging
the genuine PIL and discouraging the PIL
filed with oblique motives. Consequently,
we request that the High Courts who have
not yet framed the rules, should frame the
rules within three months. The Registrar
General of each High Court is directed to
ensure that a copy of the rules prepared
by the High Court is sent to the Secretary
General of this Court immediately
thereafter.
(3) The Courts should prima facie verify
the credentials of the petitioner before
entertaining a PIL.
(4) The Courts should be prima facie
satisfied regarding the correctness of the
22
contents of the petition before entertaining
a PIL.
(5) The Courts should be fully satisfied that
substantial public interest is involved
before entertaining the petition.
(6) The Courts should ensure that the
petition which involves larger public
interest, gravity and urgency must be
given priority over other petitions.
(7) The Courts before entertaining the PIL
should ensure that the PIL is aimed at
redressal of genuine public harm or public
injury. The Court should also ensure that
there is no personal gain, private motive
or oblique motive behind filing the public
interest litigation.
(8) The Courts should also ensure that the
petitions filed by busybodies for
extraneous and ulterior motives must be
discouraged by imposing exemplary costs
or by adopting similar novel methods to
curb frivolous petitions and the petitions
filed for extraneous considerations.”
Consequent to above directions made by this Court in
Balwant Singh Chaufal (supra) every High Court has
framed its rules for dealing with Public Interest Litigation
including the Jharkhand High Court. For our purpose the
relevant Rules would be Rules 4, 4-A, 4-B, 5 and 6. These
Rules are reproduced as under: -
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“4. The petitioner in a Public Interest Litigation
shall state in clear terms the relief prayed for in
paragraph-1 of the petition and grounds in
paragraph-2 thereof. In paragraph-3, the
petitioner shall give his/her full and complete
details so as to reveal his/her interest,
credentials and qualifications relevant for the
Public Interest Litigation, along with a
declaration that he/she has no personal
interest, direct or indirect, in the subject
matter of Public Interest Litigation. In addition,
the petitioner shall set out all relevant facts
along with available supporting data, reports
etc.
4-A. If a Public Interest Litigation is filed by a
person on behalf of a Body of Individuals, by
whatever name called, whether registered or
unregistered and whether incorporated or not,
the petition must give full details and history of
such Body, and must also clearly specify the
authority of that person to represent such Body
in that Litigation so as to make the decision
therein binding on all individuals of such Body.
4-B. Every Public Interest Litigation will
chronologically mention in detail all such other
and earlier efforts with their result, which are
within the petitioner’s knowledge, and which
have been made by the petitioner or others for
obtaining the relief sought by the Public
Interest Litigation.
5. To encourage only genuine and bona fide
Public Interest Litigation and discourage Public
Interest Litigation filed for extraneous
considerations, the Bench hearing a Public
Interest Litigation shall first verify the prima
facie credentials of the Petitioner before
entertaining any case as Public Interest
Litigation. Thereafter, notice may be issued to
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the Advocate General or to any other authority
to enable the Bench hearing the matter to come
to a prima facie satisfaction regarding the
correctness of the contents of the petition or
information before entertaining the same as
Public Interest Litigation.
6. For the aforesaid purpose, a Public Interest
Litigation, shall first be listed with appropriate
office notes under the heading “For Orders”
before the appropriate Division Bench.
6-A. The above procedure may be relaxed by
the concerned Bench, for reasons to be
recorded, in cases which call for such urgent
intervention by the Court that it is not
practicable to allow the delay which may be
caused in following the above procedure.”
The above Rules, 2010 were made pursuant to the directions
of the Supreme Court in the case of Balwant Singh Chaufal
(supra). Rules were to be framed so that it is no more left to
the individual judges to devise their own procedure, but to
ensure uniformity in entertaining a PIL, and to encourage
genuine PIL and discourage PIL which are filed with oblique
motive. In one of the directions, it was said as under:
“(2) Instead of every individual Judge devising
his own procedure for dealing with the public
interest litigation, it would be appropriate for
each High Court to properly formulate rules for
encouraging the genuine PIL and discouraging
the PIL filed with oblique motives.
Consequently, we request that the High Courts
25
who have not yet framed the rules, should
frame the rules within three months. The
Registrar General of each High Court is
directed to ensure that a copy of the rules
prepared by the High Court is sent to the
Secretary General of this Court immediately
thereafter.”
Therefore, the importance of these Rules can never be
underestimated.
12. What is of crucial significance in a Public Interest Litigation is
the bona fide of the petitioner who files the PIL. It is an
extremely relevant consideration and must be examined by
the Court at the very threshold itself and this has to be done
irrespective of the seemingly high public cause being
espoused by the petitioner in a PIL.
13. Let us now examine the nature of the PIL which is before us,
i.e., W.P. (PIL) No. 4290 of 2021. The petitioner who had filed
this PIL as well as the other PIL (W.P. (PIL) No. 727 of 2022),
and the reliefs in them have already been referred above. It
is an admitted case that in the year 2013 a similar petition was
filed being W.P. (PIL) No. 4218 of 2013 (Diwan Indranil Sinha
Vs State of Jharkhand and Ors.) which was dismissed by the
Division Bench of the Jharkhand High Court on 22.11.2013,
with costs of Rs. 50,000/- and thereafter an SLP was filed
26
against this order before this Court which was also dismissed
by order dated 28.02.2014. What is necessary for our
consideration is that though the said petition was filed by a
different person, i.e., Sri Diwan Indranil Sinha, but this was in
the knowledge of the petitioner in this PIL, as the counsel for
the petitioner in the earlier petition, i.e., in W.P. (PIL) No.
4218 of 2013, and the counsel in the present petition, are the
same. Therefore, it can be reasonably presumed that the
dismissal of the W.P. (PIL) No. 4218 of 2013 would be in the
knowledge of the petitioner. Yet the petitioner in W.P. (PIL)
No. 4290 of 2021 did not even mention the earlier writ
petition or the fact that it was dismissed by the High Court
with costs on 22.11.2013. The fact that it was in the
knowledge of the petitioner is evident as in the petition (W.P.
(PIL) No. 4290 of 2021), a supplementary affidavit was filed on
20.04.2022 where the petitioner (Sri Shiv Shankar Sharma)
does mention that one Diwan Indranil Sinha (i.e., the
petitioner in W.P. (PIL) No. 4218 of 2013) had approached
constitutional authorities about the alleged misdeeds of the
Chief Minister of Jharkhand. In Paras 3 and 4 the following
was stated :
27
“3. That, the petitioner states that, prior to
him one Late Diwan Indranil Sinha has sent
representations with all the details of the
companies & the documents in support of
the illegal earnings before the
Hon’ble President of India,
Hon’ble Home Minister
Hon’ble Governor Jharkhand,
The Director C.B.I.
The Director, Enforcement Directorate
The Central Vigilance Commissioner
The Director, General, (Investigation,
Income Tax.)
Photocopies of the receipts showing
detailed representation sent by Late
Diwan Indranil Sinha before various
authorities dt. 16.11.14 & 21.01.14 are
annexed and marked as Annexure-4 Series
to this application.
4. That, the petitioner states that, the efforts
taken earlier by Late Diwan Indranil Sinha,
wherein, the representation sent by him has
been received by the Central Bureau of
Investigation, and has enquired on their
own Level and communicated to him Vide
Letter No. 376 dated 05.11.14, stating there
in that
“3. You may, if so desire, approach the
competent court or, suitable direction in the
matter.”
Thus, it is clear that, there was prima facie
material available before them, for
proceeding in the matter.
28
Photocopy of the Letter No.376 dt. 5.11.14
of C.B.I. is annexed and marked as
Annexure-5 to this application.”
In the reply filed by the State of Jharkhand before the High
Court in W.P. No. (PIL) 4290 of 2021, an objection was taken
regarding the suppression of the earlier writ petition being
W.P. (PIL) No. 4218 of 2013 as well. Hence, it is clear that the
petitioner did not approach this Court with clean hands as he
did not disclose the dismissal of the W.P. (PIL) No. 4218 of
2013 by the Jharkhand High Court with costs (order dated
22.11.2013), an order which was upheld by this Court in SLP
No. 4886 of 2014 by order dated 28.02.2014. This is also a
clear violation of Rule, 4B of the Rules, 2010 which required
the petitioner to disclose of all similar efforts made in the
past.
14. No doubt the above procedure as given in Rules 4, 4A, 4B
and 5 can be relaxed under Rule 6, for the reasons to be
recorded by the Court where the case calls for an urgent
intervention by the Court and it is not practicable to allow
any delay to be caused in the matter. Presently, there is no
finding or order of the Jharkhand High Court that any further
delay in this matter would have made the petition infructuous
29
or redundant, which may have justified the relaxation of the
Rules. To the contrary, the Jharkhand High Court has held
that Rules 4, 4A, 4B and 5 are not mandatory but directory in
nature in view of Rule 6-A and therefore even though the
Rules have not been followed that really will not come in the
way of the Court to entertain a PIL, since the nature of
allegations in the PIL was of a serious nature. This reasoning,
in our view, is in teeth of the decision of this Court in
directions given by this Court in Balwant Singh Chaufal
(supra), as well as a clear violation of the Jharkhand High
Court Rules, primarily Rule 4-B.
15. At this stage, let us now see as to what the Jharkhand High
Court had to say in the year 2013, while dismissing W.P.
(PIL) No. 4218 of 2013. While dismissing that PIL, with costs
of Rs. 50,000/- it was said as under: -
“17. Time and again, it has been held that
Public Interest Litigation is a weapon which
has to be used with great care and
circumspection and the judiciary has to be
extremely careful to see that behind the
beautiful veil of ‘public interest’ an ugly
private malice, vested interest and/or
publicity seeking is not lurking. Though the
parameters of 'Public Interest Litigation' have
been indicated by Hon'ble Supreme Court in
large number of cases, yet unmindful of the
30
real intention and objections, number of
Public Interest Litigation are filed.
18. The petitioner has not approached the
concerned. authorities at the relevant point
of time. The petitioner has chosen to file this
Public Interest Litigation only after
respondent No.1 0 has assumed the Office of
Chief Minister of the State of Jharkhand. We
do not find any bona fide in this Public
Interest Litigation filed by the writ petitioner
and the writ petition is liable to be dismissed
with cost.
19. In the facts and circumstances of the
case, we are of the view that there is no bona
fide in the Public Interest Litigation filed by
the petitioner. The writ petition is dismissed
with cost of Rs. 50,000/-(fifty thousand). This
amount, of course, will be deposited by the
petitioner within a period of 6(six) weeks
from today before the Jharkhand State Legal
Services Authority, "Nyaya Sadan", Doranda,
Ranchi. The Registry is hereby directed to
send a copy of this order to the Member
Secretary, Jharkhand State Legal Services
Authority.”
The dismissal of a similar PIL was a fact which was also not
disclosed by the petitioner, which he would be duty bound to
do so in view of Rule 4-B of the Rules, 2010. This Court in the
case of Ashok Kumar Pandey v. State of West Bengal &
31
Ors.9 had this to say on the credentials of the person who
files a PIL, has stated as under :-
"4. When there is material to show that a petition
styled as a public interest litigation is nothing
but a camouflage to foster personal disputes,
said petition is to be thrown out. Before we
grapple with the issue involved in the present
case, we feel it necessary to consider the issue
regarding public interest aspect. Public Interest
Litigation which has now come to occupy an
important field in the administration of law
should not be "publicity interest litigation" or
''private interest litigation" or ''politics interest
litigation" or the latest trend ''paise income
litigation". If not properly regulated and abuse
averted it becomes also a tool in unscrupulous
hands to release vendetta and wreck
vengeance, as well. There must be real and
genuine public interest 'involved in the
litigation and not merely an adventure of knight
errant or poke one’s noses into for a probe. It
cannot also be invoked by a person or a body of
persons to further his or their personal causes
or satisfy his or their personal grudge and
enmity. Courts of justice should not be allowed
to be polluted by unscrupulous litigants by
resorting to the extra-ordinary jurisdiction. A
person acting bona fide and having sufficient
interest in the proceeding of public interest
litigation will alone have a locus standi and can
approach the Court to wipe out violation of
fundamental rights and genuine infraction of
statutory provisions, but not for personal gain or
private profit or political motive or any oblique
consideration. These aspects were highlighted
by this Court in The Janata Oaf case (supra) and
Kazi Lhendup Dorji v. Central Bureau of
9 AIR 2004 SC 280
32
Investigation, (1994 Supp (2) SCC 116). A writ
petitioner who comes to the Court for relief in
public interest must come not only with clean
hands like any other writ petitioner but also with
a clean heart, clean mind and clean objective.
See Ramjas Foundation v. Union of India (AIR
1993 SC 852) and K. R. Srinivas v. R. M.
Premchand (1994 (6) SCC 620).
 XXX XXX XXX
12. Public interest litigation is a weapon which
has to be used with great care and
circumspection and the judiciary has to be
extremely careful to see that behind the
beautiful veil of public interest an ugly private
malice, vested interest and/or publicity seeking
fs not lurking. It Is to be used as an effective
weapon in the armoury of law for delivering
social justice to the citizens. The attractive
brand name of public interest litigation should
not be used for suspicious products of mischief.
It should be aimed at redressal of genuine
public wrong or public injury and not publicity
oriented or founded on personal vendetta. As
indicated above, Court must be careful to see
that a body of persons or member of public,
who approaches' the Court is acting bona fide
and not for personal gain or private motive 'or
political motivation or other oblique
consideration. The Court must not allow its
process to be abused for oblique
considerations. Some persons with vested
interest indulge in the pastime of meddling with
judicial process either by force of habit or from
improper motives. Often they are actuated by a
desire to win notoriety or cheap popularity. The
petitions of such busy bodies deserve to be
thrown out by rejection at the threshold, and in
appropriate cases with exemplary costs.
33
 XXX XXX XXX
14. The Court has to be satisfied about (a) the
credentials of the applicant; (b) the prima facie
correctness or nature of information given by
him; (c) the information being not vague and
indefinite. The information should show gravity
and seriousness involved. Court has to strike
balance between two conflicting interests; (i)
nobody should be allowed to indulge in wild
and reckless allegations besmirching the
character of others: and (ii) avoidance of public
mischief and to avoid mischievous petitions
seeking to assail, for oblique motive, justifiable
executive actions. In such case, however, the
Court cannot afford to be liberal. It has to be
extremely careful to see that under the guise of
redressing a public grievance, it does not
encroach upon the sphere reserved by the
Constitution to the, Executive and the
Legislature. The Court has to act ruthlessly
while dealing with imposters and busy bodies
or meddlesome interlopers impersonating as
public-spirited holy men. They masquerade as
crusaders of justice. They pretend to act in the
name of Pro Bono Publico though they have no
interest of the Public or even of their own to
protect.
 XXX XXX XXX
16. As noted supra, a time has come to weed out
the petitions, which though titled as public
interest litigations are in essence something
else. It is shocking to note that Courts are
flooded with large number of so called public
interest litigations where even a minuscule
percentage can legitimately be called as public
interest litigations. Though the parameters of
public interest litigation have been indicated by
this Court in large number of cases, yet
34
unmindful of the real intentions and objectives,
Courts are entertaining such petitions and
wasting valuable judicial time which, as noted
above, could be otherwise utilized for disposal
of genuine cases. Though in Dr. Duryodhan
Sahu v. Jitendra Kumar Mishra and Ors. (AIR
1999 SC 114), this Court held that in service
matters PILs should not be entertained, the
inflow of so· called PILs involving service
matters continues unabated in the Courts and
strangely are entertained. The least the High
Courts could do is to throw them out on the
basis of the said decision. The other interesting
aspect is that in the PILs. official documents are
being annexed without even indicating as to
how the petitioner came to possess them. In one
case, it was noticed that an interesting answer
was given as to its possession. It was stated that
a packet was lying on the road and when out of
curiosity the petitioner opened it, he found
copies of the official documents. Whenever such
frivolous pleas are taken to explain possession,
the Court should do well not only to dismiss the
petitioners but also to impose exemplary costs.
If would be desirable for the Courts to filter out
the frivolous petitions and dismiss them with
costs as afore-stated so that the message goes in
the right direction that petitions filed with
oblique motive do not have the approval of the
Courts.”
16. The locus of the petitioner who initiates a PIL is therefore of
extreme importance as this important form of litigation
should not be abused by motivated individuals to abuse the
process of the Court for their political purposes or for any
other reason, but for a Public Cause.
35
17. Petitioner in this case is admittedly the son of Dr. Gautam
Sharma who was one of the witnesses for the prosecution in a
criminal case10 against the father of the present Chief
Minister and therefore the Chief Minister has alleged an old
enmity and personal vendetta at the hands of the petitioner.
To our mind, in spite of such objection the PIL could have
been heard had the petitioner come before the Court with
clean hands. He has deliberately and wilfully withheld from
the Court that an earlier writ petition (Writ Petition No. (PIL)
4218 of 2013) was filed on similar grounds seeking similar
reliefs which was dismissed by the Jharkhand High Court on
22.11.2013 with costs, an order which was upheld by the
Supreme Court vide order dated 28.02.2014 in SLP No. 4886
of 2014.
18. Furthermore, the allegations which were made by the
petitioner are vague, very much generalized and not at all
substantiated by anything worthy to be called an evidence.
Allegations of corruption and siphoning of money from shell
companies are nothing but a bald allegation, without
substantiating the allegations in any manner whatsoever and
10 Sessions Case No. 3 of 2006 before Additional Sessions Judge, Tis Hazari Court, New Delhi, in a case of
Section 302, 201 IPC.
36
is therefore only asking the Court to direct Central Bureau of
Investigation or the Directorate of Enforcement to investigate
the matter. This is nothing but an abuse of the process of the
court.
19. The Courts cannot allow its process to be abused for oblique
purposes, as was observed by this Court in Ashok Kumar
Pandey v. State of West Bengal11. In Balwant Singh
Chaufal (supra) this Court had discussed the three stages of
a PIL which has been discussed above. Then this Court in
Balwant Singh Chaufal (supra) states as to how this
important jurisdiction, i.e., PIL has been abused at Para 143
by observing as under:
“143. Unfortunately, of late, it has been
noticed that such an important jurisdiction
which has been carefully carved out,
created and nurtured with great care and
caution by the courts, is being blatantly
abused by filing some petitions with
oblique motives. We think time has come
when genuine and bona fide public interest
litigation must be encouraged whereas
frivolous public interest litigation should be
discouraged. In our considered opinion, we
have to protect and preserve this important
jurisdiction in the larger interest of the
people of this country but we must take
effective steps to prevent and cure its abuse
11 (2004) 3 SCC 349
37
on the basis of monetary and non-monetary
directions by the courts.”
This Court then refers to the case of Holicow Pictures (P) Ltd.
v. Prem Chand Mishra12 which has relied on the Judgement of
this Court in Janata Dal v. H.S. Chowdhary13, at Para 10 said as
under:
 “12. It is depressing to note that on account
of such trumpery proceedings initiated
before the courts, innumerable days are
wasted, which time otherwise could have
been spent for the disposal of cases of the
genuine litigants. Though we spare no
efforts in fostering and developing the
laudable concept of PIL and extending our
long arm of sympathy to the poor, the
ignorant, the oppressed and the needy
whose fundamental rights are infringed and
violated and whose grievances go
unnoticed, unrepresented and unheard; yet
we cannot avoid but express our opinion
that while genuine litigants with legitimate
grievances relating to civil matters
involving properties worth hundreds of
millions of rupees and criminal cases in
which persons sentenced to death facing
gallows under untold agony and persons
sentenced to life imprisonment and kept in
incarceration for long years, persons
suffering from undue delay in service
matters—government or private, persons
awaiting the disposal of cases wherein huge
amounts of public revenue or unauthorised
collection of tax amounts are locked up,
detenu expecting their release from the
12 (2007) 14 SCC 281
13 (1992) 4 SCC 305
38
detention orders, etc. etc. are all standing
in a long serpentine queue for years with
the fond hope of getting into the courts and
having their grievances redressed, the
busybodies, meddlesome interlopers,
wayfarers or officious interveners having
absolutely no public interest except for
personal gain or private profit either of
themselves or as a proxy of others or for
any other extraneous motivation or for
glare of publicity, break the queue muffing
their faces by wearing the mask of public
interest litigation and get into the courts by
filing vexatious and frivolous petitions and
thus criminally waste the valuable time of
the courts and as a result of which the
queue standing outside the doors of the
courts never moves, which piquant situation
creates frustration in the minds of the
genuine litigants and resultantly they lose
faith in the administration of our judicial
system.
20. Now let us see what are the nature of allegations which have
been made by the petitioner in the PIL filed before the
Jharkhand High Court. Petitioner alleges that the one of the
respondents who is the present Chief Minister of Jharkhand
has amassed a huge wealth by corrupt means by abusing his
position as a Chief Minister and has invested this money in
about 32 companies of which description has been given. The
petitioner then gives details of these companies as to who are
the Directors, etc. The respondent or his relatives are not the
39
Directors of the Companies. But then the petitioner states that
he has information that he has been siphoning off this money
and investing it in these shell companies through one Ravi
Kejriwal who is allegedly a close associate of the Chief
Minister. The allegations of the respondent of money
laundering through shell companies has not been
supplemented by any kind of evidence, whatsoever. The
names of persons who are allegedly responsible for the
operation of these companies have been mentioned, but
without producing any concrete evidence, it has been stated
that these persons are connected/close aides or related to the
Chief Minister. Further, none of the companies have been
made a party to the present PILs, before the Jharkhand High
Court. Thus, an order is sought from the High Court to direct
the Enforcement Directorate to investigate these so called
“shell companies” without even making the companies a
party in the writ proceedings. It is also an admitted fact that in
relation to present two PILs, no FIR or complaint has been
filed with the police or any authority agitating the grievances
and these petitions have been filed before the High Court,
without availing the statutory remedies.
40
21. We are not for a moment saying that people who occupy high
offices should not be investigated, but for a High Court to take
cognizance of the matter on these generalized submissions
which do not even make prima facie satisfaction of the Court,
is nothing but an abuse of the process of the Court. The nondisclosure of the credentials of the petitioner and the past
efforts made for similar reliefs as it has been mandated under
the Rules, 2010 further discredits these petitions. The
petitioner in the PILs did not go with clean hands before the
High Court. In our view, such a petition was liable to be
dismissed at the very threshold itself. If the petitioner has a
genuine reason to pursue the matter, he has his remedies
available under the Companies Act or under other provisions
of the law where he can apprise the relevant authorities of the
misdeeds of the Directors or Promotors of the Companies. But
on generalized averments which are nothing but mere
allegations at this stage, the Court cannot become a forum to
investigate the alleged acts of misdeeds against high
constitutional authorities. It was not proper for the High Court
to entertain a PIL which is based on mere allegations and half
baked truth that too at the hands of a person who has not been
41
able to fully satisfy his credentials and has come to the Court
with unclean hands.
22. Consequently, we allow the present appeals and set aside the
order of 03.06.2022 passed by the Jharkhand High Court in
W.P. No. (PIL) 4290 of 2021 and W.P. No. (PIL) 727 of 2022.
…………………………CJI.
 (UDAY UMESH LALIT)
.……………………………J.
 (S. RAVINDRA BHAT)
.……………………………J.
 (SUDHANSHU DHULIA)
New Delhi
November 07, 2022

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