The Supreme Court has declined to entertain an application seeking to reduce the cost of Rs 5 lakh, imposed on one Mukesh Jain for filing a petition challenging the elevation of Justice Dipak Misra as the Chief Justice in 2017.
A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah queried advocate A P Singh, representing Jain, “When are you going to pay the amount?” Singh urged the court to give some time to his client, who has been in judicial custody for one year and three months. He added that his client is accused in three cases and recently he was granted bail in one matter. However, he continues to remain in judicial custody in other cases.
Justice Shah pointed to an application submitted by Jain on June 4 this year. The bench said in the application seeking reduction of costs, the applicant has made “unfounded allegations” against the judges of the top court.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, on her part, submitted that the property may be attached, if necessary and let the order of cost work on its own. “Don’t indulge this man”, she submitted.
The bench directed that the award of costs should be recovered from the petitioner as arrears of land revenue by the competent authority. And, also ordered that no PIL in future will be entertained by the Supreme Court unless the petitioner shows proof of deposit of the costs.
On July 9, the top court had directed Jain, who had challenged the elevation of Justice Dipak Misra as the Chief Justice in 2017, to deposit costs of Rs 5 lakh despite the death of co-petitioner Swami Om.
The top court had noted that some people have become professional public interest litigants, and this business must stop.
Jain’s counsel had informed the bench that his client was in Balasore jail for nearly a year and recently, he got out on bail. “A lot of time he has appeared before the apex court in person. Swami Om has died. I would request for an adjournment for 2 weeks”, submitted the counsel. Swami Om had passed away in February 2021.
In August 2017, the top court had imposed costs of Rs 10 lakh on Jain and self-proclaimed godman Swami Om for challenging the elevation of Justice Misra. The top court then had termed the plea a popularity stunt and imposed costs on the petitioners. Swami Om had later moved the apex court seeking waiver of costs citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The court then reduced it from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.