Bombay HC imposes Rs. 5 lakh fine and directs registration of extortion case against frivolous litigant
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Bombay HC imposes Rs. 5 lakh fine and directs registration of extortion case against frivolous litigant

Omkar Gokhale

The Bombay High Court, on Thursday imposed a hefty fine of Rs. 5 lakh on one Sapan Shrivastava for filing a frivolous plea against the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE), a privately held board of school education.

Yet another frivolous petition. Strict action needs to be taken against the petitioner,” the Court remarked.

Shrivastava has been pulled up by Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog on several occasions citing similar reasons.

This time, Shrivastava had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the CISCE and Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) in 2016 and claimed that CISCE was conducting the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Indian School Certificate (ISC) board courses in schools across the country without getting a recognised by the Ministry.

Based on a reply from a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by him, the petitioner had prayed that the courses by CISCE are declared illegal and that a mandamus be issued by the Court directing the MHRD to file an FIR against the CISCE on offences under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code ( IPC).

Refuting petitioner’s claims, the HRD Ministry and CISCE argued that the CISCE is an independent board and education. Further, since it concerned a subject in concurrent list of the Constitution of India, its courses are approved by the central and state governments. It was further submitted that there was no legal provision that required the ministry to grant any specific approval to CISCE.

On Thursday, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre dismissed the PIL, on finding that the plea had no substance.

The Court further imposed Rs. 5 lakh cost on Shrivastava to be paid to the respondent CISCE and directed the court registry to ensure that the petitioner deposits the amount in four weeks. The Court also directed the registry to not allow Shrivastava to file any more petitions until he produces proof of having paid the fine of Rs. 5 Lakh.

Although Senior Advocate TN Subramanian, appearing for the CISCE, refused to accept the amount imposed on the petitioner, the Court advised that CISCE should accept it and spend it for educational purposes.

Going a step further, Chief Justice Nandrajog also asked the CISCE to file First Information Report (FIR) against the petitioner for extorting schools and education board.

The Court also observed that Shrivastava had posted on a crowd- funding website Milaap claiming that he is a campaigner against corruption and sought online donation. While noting that his post was misusing the portal, the Court directed Milaap to remove or block the post.

Shrivastava, who has filed over 25 PILs and of late, has been pulled up by the Bench headed by Chief Justice Nandrajog over his frivolous pleas before.

Moreover, in July this year, a Bench headed by the Chief Justice directed Shrivastava to render paralegal services in the tribal areas in Thane before his petition could be considered.

To this end, Shrivastava was directed to report to the Chairperson of the District Legal Services Committee, Thane, and perform duties such as gathering information from the tribal areas on numbers of tribal schools with hostels, teachers working in the tribal schools, the number of tribal students admitted in the schools and whether tribal students are subject to medical check-ups.

The court directed him to meet at least 100 tribal students and report whether they were satisfied with the education imparted to them.

In another instance, on July 4, the Chief Justice had occasion to deal with a PIL filed by Shrivastava seeking admission for his son under the Right to Education Act. Shrivastava had claimed that he belongs to economically weaker section having income of less than Rs.1,00,000 per annum. However, the Chief Justice Nandrajog had dismissed the PIL, stating,

It cannot be said that the petitioner has means to pay money and obtain information under the Right to Information Act and file as many as 25 litigations and at the same time claims to be from the economically weaker section of the society.”

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