New Delhi, July 8 :
The Delhi High Court Tuesday dismissed a PIL filed by an organisation challenging the decision of the central government not to confer the Arjuna Award in 2013 upon international triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary despite his selection for the prestigious prize.
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw refused to provide any relief to the organisation saying that “legal tool of public interest litigation has been misused by people” and in this case “we do not find the present case to be falling in that category (PIL)”.
“The legal tool of Public Interest Litigation was invented by the Courts as an exception to the otherwise well established rule, of only a person having cause of action or locus standi being entitled to approach the Court. Such invention was deemed necessary finding that in certain situations, owing to social or economic backwardness or other reasons, the aggrieved parties were themselves unable to approach the Court,” said the court.
It added: “The field of operation of the said tool was expanded to cover situations where a general direction of the Court was deemed necessary, not for the benefit of any one person or a group of persons but for the benefit of the public generally viz. protection and preservation of ecology, environment etc. and for maintaining probity, transparency and integrity in governance.”
The Supreme Court has been repeatedly issuing warnings of allowing the said tool of Public Interest Litigation to be misused, the bench said.
The court’s order came on a PIL filed by the Kerala-based Navalokam Samskarika Kendram of Kottayam contended that Maheshwary was selected for the Arjuna Award in 2013. The award, however, was cancelled at the last minute.
The plea asked the court to pass direction to the central government to confer the award on Maheshwary as decided by the selection committee and the sports ministry in 2013 or to consider him in 2014.
The court opined that the grievance, if any in the plea, was personal to Maheshwary and he should have moved the court instead of the organisation, of which he is the member.
“The fact remains that Renjith Maheswary never chose to challenge the said suspension or ban and rather accepted the same. A third person, as the petitioner (organisation), cannot be permitted to challenge the same,” said the court.
The central government declined to confer Maheshwary the Arjuna award, saying the athlete was involved in a doping-related incident in 2008 after which he was banned for three months on Jan 10, 2009.
Maheshwary had never tested positive in a dope test nor was any ban imposed by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), said the plea. It added that even NADA has not been accredited by World Anti-Doping Agency.
The plea said that after Maheshwary was selected for the award, the prize money of Rs.5 lakh through cheque was issued to him as well as a flight ticket from Chennai to New Delhi, and required dress for the award ceremony. The rehearsal for receiving the award was also done at Rashtrapati Bhavan and his name showed in the second place out of 15 Arjuna awardees.