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SC imposes exemplary costs of Rs 5 lakh on petitioner seeking ban on sale of soft drinks; says invocation of Art 32 was an abuse of process

"The petition has been filed without the petitioner having any technical knowledge on the subject. The source of his assertions has not been substantiated", the Court noted.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today came down heavily on a social worker who had moved Supreme Court with a PIL seeking a ban on the sale of soft drinks such as Coca Cola, Thumbs Up, among others (Umedsinh P Chavda v. Union of India and ors.)

The Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Hemant Gupta, and Ajay Rastogi imposed costs of Rs 5 Lakh on a social worker who had moved the Supreme Court invoking Court's jurisdiction under Article 32.

After perusing the assertions made by the petitioner in his affidavit, the Court noted that in seeking a ban on the sale of these soft drinks, the petitioner had no "technical knowledge" on the issue.

While the affidavit claimed to contain submissions that were true to the best of the petitioner's belief and knowledge, the Court noted that these claims, including those on the health effects of soft drinks, were "unsubstantiated."

The arguments advanced by the Counsel, Advocate SP Singh, for the petitioner also do not offer any justification for the assertions made by the petition, the Court added.

The Court was critical of the petitioner having filed the plea, stating that the invocation of the jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution, in this case, was an abuse of the process.

"The petition has been filed for extraneous reasons. The invocation of the jurisdiction under Article 32 is an abuse of the process."
Supreme Court said.

The Court concluded that petitioner's invocation of Article 32 in this matter was not "a bona fire recourse to the jurisdiction in a public interest litigation." Therefore, the Court felt the need to also impose costs besides dismissing the plea.

"We accordingly dismiss the petition and impose costs quantified at Rs 5,00,000 on the petitioner."
Supreme Court said

The petitioner has been granted a period of one month to deposit those amount in the Supreme Court's registry. The Court added that the money deposited by the petitioner shall be disbursed to the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA).

Read Order:

Umedsinh Chavda vs UOI.pdf
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