Take a chill PIL…

Posted: April 8, 2009 in blogging
Tags: ,

Somewhere along the way the concept of the public interest litigation (PIL) movement, pioneered by Justices P N Bhagwati and V R Krishna Iyer, to highlight the injustice being meted out to the “poor, ignorant or those in a socially or economically disadvantaged position,” has been hijacked by individuals, who are neither poor, ignorant, or socially or economically disadvantaged. They are using it purely as a means to get cheap publicity for themselves and massage their ego.
The Supreme Court even asked the lower courts to filter out “frivolous” PILs and impose stiff penalties, but even that hasn’t really helped has it? Maybe it needs more than a ‘filter’ to stop wasting the court’s time and public money. Just take a look at some of the ongoing litigation. There’s one recently against actor Akshay Kumar and his wife Twinkle, because she playfully tried to unbutton his jeans at the launch of a brand of Levi’s jeans which, incidentally was called “Unbuttoned”.
Years ago, someone wanted the word ‘Sindh’ removed from the National Anthem, while another wanted it to be discarded completely! Yet another litigation appealed for India to be rechristened ‘Hindustan’ and someone else demanded that the Arabian Sea be renamed ‘Sindhu Sagar’. There was one against Pooja Bhatt for some posters of her film. Then there was one against Shilpa Shetty because she was kissed by Richard Gere at a show in Mumbai. For heaven’s sake, if Shilpa Shetty and her parents have no problems with Mr Gere smooching her, why does the rest of the world? Don’t these people (as in litigants) have anything better to do with their and the court’s time and money? I mean do they look out of the window in the morning and say “today’s a good day to file a PIL”?
To add to the mayhem are the self appointed moralists, who are ready to jump on to any bandwagon that will get them 5 col cms of space in the newspapers.
Remember the brouhaha that was created by some activists in Bangalore who were protesting against the Miss World pageant way back in 1996. It was more than obvious that they were looking for publicity. Since Amitabh Bachchan’s company ABCL was organizing it, they were easy targets. I remember asking Mr Bachchan about this when I interviewed him for Maharashtra Herald in 1997. He dismissed it with a shrug and a wry smile. We’ve had innumerable such pageants since then all over India, so how come the litigants and activists are silent since then?
Can those who file such frivolous PILs actually be called “poor, ignorant or in a socially or economically disadvantaged position”? Your guess is as good as mine.

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