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Lawyers cannot be allowed to file pleas as petitioner in person: Supreme Court dismisses plea to stop the eviction of students by landlords

The petition was dismissed with a warning of heavy costs.

Debayan Roy

While dismissing a petition seeking to prevent eviction of students by landlords for non payment of rent in the wake of COVID-19, the Supreme Court observed that lawyers cannot be allowed to file pleas as petitioner-in-person.

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and BR Gavai dismissed the plea filed by Advocate Pawan Prakash Pathak and a final year student, Abhijeet Pandey, warning to impose heavy costs.

On March 29, the Ministry of Home Affairs had released an order urging landlords not to evict tenants for failing to pay rent during the lockdown. The petition filed in the Supreme Court calls for the strict enforcement of this order.

The petitioner submitted that the plea is being moved to enforce the fundamental rights of students at large, particularly the right to equality (Article 14) and the right to life as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.

During today's hearing, Justice Kaul queried if Pathak was the petitioner in person.

"In the absence of work, lawyers cannot keep filing cases related to COVID-19. You are not a person on the field," said Justice Kaul.

Justice Ashok Bhushan weighed in, saying that the Court "cannot implement orders of the government. There is a helpline to monitor the situation. We are not entertaining this".

However, at this juncture, Pathak submitted that apart from him, a final year student was also a petitioner in the case.

The second petitioner, Abhijeet Kumar Pande's father is disabled and he survives on the money sent by his parents. However, due to lockdown, there have been financial difficulties owing to which he declares himself to be "financially broken."

The plea highlighted the plight of students living as paying guests, where they were being provided with meals. However, ever since the lockdown began, such PG students are not being given meals due to restrictions on the entry of cooks, while still being forced to cough up the PG rent, the petition submits.

Corrigendum: The petition was about the eviction of students due to non payment of rent and not for the creation of emergency fund for lawyers as earlier reported.

[READ ORDER]

Pawan Prakash Pathan Rent Exemption Order.pdf
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