The principle of locus standi in a PIL must not be applied to cases of individual standing: Karnataka High Court

While filing a writ petition, the petitioner must clearly establish his locus standi in that particular case. In the absence of any right of the petitioners being violated, such petitioners would not be persons aggrieved. Then, they have no locus to file a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution in their personal or individual capacity. A division bench comprising of Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice NS Sanjay Gowda, while adjudicating the matter in Syndicate Bank v. M/S Manyatha Residents Association [WRIT APPEAL No.2872/2013 (BDA)] dealt with the circumstances when a writ petition may be filed.

The Petitioner Manyatha Residents’ Association, represented by its Secretary, is an association registered under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1961 and it represents the members of the Association comprising of owners of houses or sites in the residential layout, formed by Manyatha Promoters Private Limited in about 82 acres of land at Rachenahalli, Krishnarajapuram Hobli, Bengaluru East Taluk, duly approved by the Bangalore Development Authority (‘BDA’ for short). As per the layout plan, the areas earmarked as civic amenity sites, open spaces and roads were relinquished by the Developer in favour of the BDA. The BDA, in turn, allotted civic amenity site Nos.5 and 6 to the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), for the purpose of establishing its office building and Regional Gas Management Centre. According to the writ petitioners, the said office is neither a civic amenity, nor an amenity for the residents of the area.

The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts dismissed the writ petition on the ground that the petitioners had no locus standi and stated that; “In the case of public interest litigation, the petitioners would have no personal or individual interest in the subject matter of the petition. It is filed purely in public interest so as to secure justice for those who cannot approach the Court or in order to assail an illegal action initiated by the State Government, its agencies or instrumentalities. In such a case, doctrine of locus standi is relaxed and the same is for the purpose of bringing to the notice of the High Court (or Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution) for securing justice, in the realm of enforcement of fundamental rights, constitutional rights, or other legal rights for the benefit of those persons who are not in a position to approach the Constitutional Courts and in the larger interest of the general public. In all other cases, where a writ petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution, for enforcement of a fundamental right or any legal right, such a petitioner must have a locus standi to do so by demonstrating that there is a legal wrong done to him by violation of his right and therefore, being an aggrieved person, has the right to file the writ petition and not otherwise. The principle of standing or locus standi in all public interest litigation if applied to individual standing, it would result in destroying the time-tested concept of “standing” which has authority in India from the Anglo-Saxon Jurisprudence as well as American Law Jurisprudence.”

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