HC junks PIL plea against cafeterias, shops in walkways of malls

The Madras High Court on Saturday termed as “rubbish” a public interest litigation petition which sought penal action against shopping malls where cafeterias and shops had been put up even on walkways and other common spaces meant for visitor movement.

It said the petition was a classic example of how the PIL jurisdiction was abused by some and how a venerated system had become extortionist.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy made the observations while dismissing the PIL petition preferred by R. Varaaki.

Wondering how a PIL petition could be filed with respect to use of space inside private shopping malls, the court said if the cafeterias and shops on common spaces did not appeal to the aesthetic sense of the petitioner, it would be well within his rights to not visit such malls. On the other hand, if he had any specific complaint against a specific mall, he could approach the authorities concerned after establishing his locus standi.

Disapproving of vague and sweeping allegations levelled by the litigant that most malls utilised common space for commercial purposes to avoid payment of taxes, the court imposed a token cost of ₹100 and directed him to pay it to a charity of his choice. It restrained him from filing PIL petitions for one year and stated that no such case filed by him would be taken up for hearing without the leave of the Bench concerned.

“The court will be better served if such rubbish is avoided,” the judges said and requested the Bar, in general, to exercise rudimentary discretion before filing such cases.

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