The Supreme Court on Friday directed that Rs 5 lakh cost be recovered from the land of a litigant who had filed a motivated petition in 2017 challenging the appointment of the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra. Swami Om (now deceased) and Mukesh Jain had in 2017 questioned the practise of recommending to the President, the name of successor by the incumbent Chief Justice of India.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah also took note of the application for reduction of cost filed by Jain, who is currently in Balasore jail in Odisha in another case and said he has again made some unfounded allegations against the judges of the top court. The bench said the competent authority may recover the cost imposed from the arrears of land of Jain.
It directed that till the recovery of the cost, he would not be allowed to file any PIL in the top court. The top court dismissed his application for reduction of costs while noting that in 2017, it had imposed Rs 10 lakh cost on Jain but last year it was reduced to Rs 5 lakh.
Advocate AP Singh, appearing for Jain said that he does not have any land and he should be asked to appear before the court once he gets bail in other cases. Jain was granted bail in one case but there are two other cases pending in Odisha. He was booked on the basis of an alleged WhatsApp message which was circulated last year related to Puri Rath Yatra in the state and three cases were registered against him, he said. The bench said it cannot keep adjourning the matter and authorities may be directed to recover the cost.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, said that Jain’s application for further reduction of cost be dismissed and authorities be directed to attach the properties of Jain and recover the cost as per law. On July 9, the top court had said that it will not hear any professional public interest litigants unless they deposit the fines imposed on them by the court.
The top court was earlier informed that one of them, Swami Om had expired during the first COVID wave last year while Mukesh Jain has been in Balasore jail for the past one year. The top court had told advocate A P Singh to ask Jain to pay the fine or on the next date of hearing the court will pass orders that he cannot file any petition before the Supreme Court unless he pays the fine. Singh said that Jain has been released on bail from the jail in Odisha and he would appear before the court during the next hearing.
On August 24, 2017, the top court had said, imposition of exemplary cost on Om and Jain was needed to send across a message to similarly placed people to deter them from filing such pleas. Om and Jain, have not alleged anything in their 2017 PIL against then CJI designate (Justice Dipak Misra) and had referred to the constitutional scheme on the appointment of CJI and the Chief Justices of the High Courts and said that the process of recommending the name of successor by the incumbent CJI is against the spirit of Constitution. The top court had then asked them to deposit the fine within a period of one month and said that the amount should be sent to the Prime Minister Relief Fund.