Delhi HC: PIL can’t be filed merely due to non-acceptance of suggestions by superior officers

    The Delhi High Court has held that a PIL under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution cannot be filed by an administrative officer merely on account of non-acceptance of suggestions by superior officers. (Shovan Patra vs Union of India)

    A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan passed the order.

    The Delhi High Court stated that, “it is not desirable that an administrative officer approaches the Court by way of a PIL under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution against the view taken by his superior administrative officers, whether to maintain a position of which he is convinced or to teach a lesson to the high ranking officer.”

    Shovan Patra, the petitioner, held the post of Accounts Officer and there seemed to have been a difference of opinion with his superior administrative officers about the implementation of the Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.

    The Petitioner, in the writ petition, alleged several violations of the Act and the Schemes framed thereunder. He specified that the same was subsequent in loss to the exchequer and thus, there was a need for certain remedial measures to be undertaken. But, the superior officers took a diverse view concerning the implementation of the Act.

    The Court held that administrative disputes of this kind resulting from a difference of opinion between the petitioner and the superior administrative officers of the respondents have to be resolved by prevailing administrative procedures, and should not lead to filing of PIL’s.

    Averring that the Petitioner was not able to point to any misfeasance or other mala fide on the part of the superior administrative officers, which resulted in their taking a position conflicting to that of the Petitioner, the Court added,

    “A petition just like the current one is not suitably the subject matter of a PIL at all. There is no allegation in the current case of any mala fides, or any supporting material, for us to entertain the present public interest litigation.”

    The Delhi HC ultimately opined that there was no purpose to entertain the writ petition.