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This article is written by Aryan, from School of Law, Christ University. This article deals with the Suraz India contempt case analysis and examines the validity of the cases brought before the Supreme Court.

Introduction

Public Interest Litigation (hereinafter referred to as PIL) is a petition filed before a court of law in matters of public interest, particularly in cases where the interest of the large public is at stake. PILs have played a significant role in safeguarding various public issues as they offer several advantages, like low court fees, simple procedures, and speedy results. However, in recent times, people have often taken unfair advantage of these remedies, which has resulted in the violation of fundamental rights by the public. The Suraz India contempt case is one such example.

The Suraz India Trust is a public trust that challenges those provisions of law it considers unconstitutional and files PILs regarding the unlawful nature of the laws. The current case deals with the action brought against the Chairman of the trust, Mr. Rajiv Daiya, for filing numerous petitions before the Supreme Court, the majority of which were illegitimate and lacked justification. It is a unique case in which the court banned the trust from filing any more writ petitions and imposed an exemplary cost on the trust to be deposited before the court. The article gives broad discretion about the cases filed by the trust before the court. Furthermore, the article discusses the legality of those cases by stating the reasons for their rejection and why imposing exemplary costs on the trust was necessary. 

Suraz India Trust case : a brief overview

Suraz India Trust is a public trust registered under the Rajasthan Public Trust Act, 1959. The primary aim of the trust is to preserve the complainant’s rights in cases of injuries and to challenge those elements of the law that they consider unlawful. The chairman of the trust, Mr. Rajiv Daiya, filed several matters before the Supreme Court. The majority of the issues dealt with specific provisions of the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968, certain sections of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966, and few articles of the Constitution. The petitioner filed several petitions regarding the unlawfulness of these articles, considering it arbitrary in nature. The matters mentioned above were taken up in 64 different proceedings before the Court and were defended personally by the Chairman, Mr. Rajiv Daiya. However, none of the cases brought before the Court was successful, as the Court held that the trust’s actions were unreasonable and reckless. Furthermore, the Court ordered Mr. Rajiv Daiya to submit a voluntary statement stating that the Suraz India Trust will not file any petitions in the public interest. If the trust complies with the ruling, the matter will be closed, and the court will take no further action against the trust.

Contentions by the petitioner

Mr. Rajiv Daiya was dissatisfied with the decision rendered by the court. During the hearing, the petitioner placed some documents whereby he considered that the court adequately dealt with none of the petitions he filed in the past. After his case, the petitioner addressed some of these letters to the Hon’ble sitting judges residences, including the Chief Justice, to express dissatisfaction with the ruling. In the past, the petitioner appeared before the Supreme Court to plead the matter for adjudication. However, these matters were never presented to the Hon’ble Chief Justice. Additionally, to demonstrate the wrong approach adopted by the court, the petitioner submitted a letter to then-President Smt. Prathibha Patel and the then-Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India to draw their attention to the unlawful actions adopted by the Supreme Court, as per the petitioner.

Petitioner remarks on the Rajasthan HC judges

The trust had previously cast considerable doubt on the Rajasthan High Court by filing a contempt petition against the then Chief Justice of Rajasthan, Shri Narayan Roy, and six other Rajasthan High Court justices on September 07, 2010. However, the petitioner believed that the Registrar and Assistant Registrar of the Rajasthan High Court had rejected the petition on technical grounds by claiming that the case was never brought before the bench for adjudication. Furthermore, the Rajasthan High Court refused to issue notice despite hearing the matters several times in Rajiv Daiya v. Umesh Garg (2019) and Rajiv Daiya v. State of Rajasthan (2019). All these cases are still pending before various courts in Rajasthan, ranging from the District to the High Court. The incidents have led the Chairman, Mr. Rajiv Daiya, to file six contempt petitions against the HC judges. Furthermore, the trust also demanded strict action against the Registrar- Shri T. Sivdasan and the Assistant Registrar PIL- Shri Vimal Jaitely of the Rajasthan High Court for abusing their position and acting in contravention of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Nilima Priyadarshi v. State of Bihar (1987). The trust served notice to both the people about their misconduct and obstruction in the particular matter.

Petitioner remarks upon the Supreme Court 

The petitioner was hesitant to approach the Supreme Court based on his treatment by the Rajasthan High Court. He stated that higher judicial authorities have often come to the aid of subordinate judicial officers, and he believes that the judiciary of Rajasthan is conspiring with the Hon’ble Supreme Court Registry because his litigation is still pending before the Supreme Court. To support his claim, the petitioner presented certain petitions he submitted before the court earlier, the details of which are as follows-

  • The petitioner stated that he was a victim of all three tiers of the Rajasthan judiciary and believed that even the Supreme Court would defend the actions of the Rajasthan judiciary, considering that three judges holding office in the Supreme Court were from Rajasthan. 
  • According to the petitioner, there are grounds to assume that the Ministry of Law and Justice attempted to suppress the applicant’s complaint to avoid an investigation into the case. 
  • Considering these factors, the applicant thought it appropriate to make a complaint in the form of a mercy petition to the President of India as he did not receive any justice from the Supreme Court. It will also provide a fair chance for the petitioner to present substantial materials to the court.
  • Finally, the petitioner concluded that if he remains unheard despite filing a mercy petition, the President Secretariat will be solely responsible for the consequences for defending various branches of the judiciary and overlooking ordinary people’s grievances. 

The roots of the case

In the present case, the petitioner, Mr. Rajiv Daiya has challenged various provisions of the law, including Section 301 and 302 of the Indian Penal Code and various provisions of the Judges (Inquiry) Act. Furthermore, the Division Bench dealing with the writ petitions filed by Suraz India Trust had framed ten questions on the appointment of judges under Article 124 (2) of the Indian Constitution. Based on the complexity of the questions, the Division Bench referred the matter to a larger bench on April 04, 2011. On November 09, 2012, a three-judge bench heard the issue and directed that the case files be referred to the Chief Justice for proper measures. The petitioner, Mr. Daiya, made submissions before the Chief Justice, asking for the matter to be placed before a bench of eleven judges. However, the Chief Justice again deemed it appropriate to place the matter before a three-judge bench. During a hearing on November 7, 2013, the three-judge bench stated they were not inclined to entertain the writ petition and hence dismissed the case.

The petitioner viewed this ruling as a clear breach of laws and regulations. Moreover, the judgement was a disrespect of the order passed by the Division Bench. The petitioner filed a contempt petition against the Chief Justice, three other Supreme Court judges, and the Secretary-General. However, the petitions were dismissed because they were lodged unfairly and were not presented before the court for deliberation. The trust also claimed that none of the cases brought before the Court was decided on merits, and the court was unwilling to entertain the case and thus dismissed it. Following this, Suraz India Trust had to approach the Supreme Court on all 64 matters. 

Suraz India Trust v. Union of India: the SC’s observations

In Suraz India Trust vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court stated that the presentation made by the trust was indeed disturbing due to the allegations made by the petitioner against three Supreme Court judges and six Rajasthan High Court judges. The Court expressed dissatisfaction with the petitioner’s aspersions against the judges and stated that respect for the Courts and the decisions rendered by them must always be maintained to ensure public respect for the judges. Additionally, the petitioner requested an amicus curiae in this case, as he struggled to comprehend complex legal terms. The petitioner argued that, with the assistance of an amicus curiae, the true effort of the Suraz India Trust could be put forward before the judges. As per the Court’s observations, while the petitioner faced challenges while formulating complicated issues, he could easily explain and clarify factual matters and project his insinuations, as he understood them clearly. Taking these factors into consideration, the Court refused to grant an amicus curiae in the above case.

The petitioner tried his last-ditch method through the present writ petition in January 2017, praying to declare Section 3 of the Judges(Inquiry) Act,1968 unconstitutional, as it violates Article 124(4) and Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The Court found it difficult to analyze what a trust would benefit from this case and why the petitioner has repeatedly approached this Court on complicated legal issues without rendering any assistance. 

As per the petitioner, one of the reasons for frequently approaching this Court was to question the legitimacy of listing the previous writ petitions before a three-judge bench despite the trust’s opinion that considering the severity of issues involved, the same should be heard by a bench comprising eleven judges. To this, the Court observed that, when a two-judge bench heard the matter, they inferred that the matter should be referred to a larger bench. When the matter was brought before the Chief Justice, the order of the Chief Justice was in accordance with the order passed by the two-judge bench. The Chief Justice noted that there was no legal basis for presenting the case to an eleven-judge panel. The conclusions drawn by Mr. Rajiv Daiya are the consequence of his lack of maturity and knowledge. The challenges made by the trust before this court are legally inadmissible, and there is no doubt that actions adopted by the trust lacked jurisdiction. By bringing 64 petitions, the trust wasted the Court’s time and gained nothing out of it. Additionally, the Court determined that contempt petitions filed against numerous Supreme Court judges, including the Chief Justice, and the Secretary-General, were unjustified and baseless.

The Court determined that important matters are discussed before the Courts daily. They lack behind sometimes as a result of instances like these. Filing contempt petitions one after the other on issues with no justification clearly shows the trust’s lack of understanding and illegitimacy. Therefore, such actions were and should be taken seriously by the Court.

On May 01, 2017, the Court directed a sum of 25 Lakhs to be deposited by the petitioner for wasting the judges’ time. Additionally, the Court permanently banned Mr. Rajiv Daiya from filing any public interest litigation either by himself or any other individual due to misconceived petitions filed before the Court. The above costs shall be recoverable from the trust within three months from the given date. If the trust fails to deposit the requisite amount within the stipulated time, it shall be recoverable from Mr. Rajiv Daiya, the Chairman of the Suraz India Trust.

Current status

The trust has failed to deposit the requisite amount with the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Welfare Trust in the stipulated period. In the most recent order, the Supreme Court bench refused to change its previous order and issued a notice of contempt to Rajiv Daiya for not complying with the order by depositing 25 lakhs as per the order previously issued by the Court.

Earlier, Mr. Rajiv Daiya tried to seek adjournment from the Court for four months and later for two weeks after stating that he had undergone prostate surgery. In the order dated August 18, 2021, the Court denied jurisdiction for the two-week adjournment after reviewing the affidavit presented on behalf of the State of Rajasthan and instructed the State to verify the facts regarding the surgery. The Supreme Court, in its order, stated that Mr. Rajiv Daiya has repeatedly been misusing the jurisdiction of the Court, which has led them to issue bailable warrants against him for scandalizing the Court in this particular matter. 

Conclusion

In the given case, the course of action adopted by the petitioner was a matter of grave concern and was not in accordance with the law. Filing contempt petitions one after the other on matters that lacked jurisdiction showed the petitioner’s dissatisfaction with the country’s judges and executive functionaries. In this particular instance, the Court imposed exemplary costs solely to ensure that filing innumerable PILs on unrelated and trivial issues shall not be repeated in the future. Individuals should not misuse the rights conferred upon them by the Constitution of our country, as there are more important matters to be heard daily, and the Court cannot entertain minor and baseless issues every day.

References

  1. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:zc41_EjuzXIJ:https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2015/38992/38992_2015_Judgement_01-May-2017.pdf+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=in
  2. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/14806056/
  3. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-suraz-trust-non-deposit-of-cost-frivolous-litigations-ngo-169832
  4. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ngo-banned-for-life-from-filing-pils/articleshow/58468061.cms
  5. https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5a65cba74a93263320776884
  6. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/jul/11/sc-issues-contempt-notice-to-ngo-head-for-scandalising-court-2328605.htm

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