The Madras High Court ruled that the petitioners lacked the standing to challenge the government decision, and despite the pleas being filed in the guise of a Public Interest Litigation, the underlying motive appeared to be pursuing personal interests.
Case Title: S. Panneerselvam v. The Principal Secretary to Government and Others
Case No: W.P.No.26179 of 2023
Decided on: 30th November, 2023
CORAM: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE KRISHNAN RAMASAMY
The Madras High Court while hearing a plea by petitioners concerns revolving around the decision made by the respondents to close 500 TASMAC retail shops, as the shops situated in the respective petitioners’ buildings fail to meet any of the criteria outlined in the impugned order ruled that the petitioners lacked the standing to challenge the government decision, and despite the pleas being filed in the guise of a Public Interest Litigation, the underlying motive appeared to be pursuing personal interests.
Facts of the Case
The petitioners claim that they leased the land to the respondents, who made significant investments in constructing stores and bars. It is acknowledged that the parties have a landlord-tenant relationship. The petitioners contend that the first respondent’s standards are broken by the decision to close 500 TASMAC retail stores, including those located on their property. Furthermore, the filed writ petitions allege that the government’s decision to close stores adjacent to temples and educational institutions violates their own policies.
However, the respondents argued that the government’s decision to liquidate 500 TASMAC retail stores in accordance with directory-style standards serves as the locus standi for filing the writ petitions. They claimed that the petitioners should take their complaints, if any, to the proper venue and that they are unable to contest the closure order in this court as owners. According to them, the writ petitions need to be rejected since they are unmaintainable.
Courts analysis and decision
The court noted that the connection between the parties is that of owner and tenant, allowing the tenant the authority to make decisions regarding the closure of their business. If the owners in this case, the petitioners feel wronged by such choices, they should instead go to the appropriate legal venue rather than filing writ petitions as per the provisions of the agreement. And the government’s policy choice to close TASMAC retail stores was deemed to be in the public interest, and as property owners, the petitioners lack standing to contest the decision. Even while the writ petitions that have been filed seem to be part of a public interest litigation, their true motivation seems to be personal interests. The Court emphasized that the petitioners are not the appropriate parties to challenge the closure of the 500 TASMAC retail stores.
According to the Court, the respondent’s decision to close the stores is legal despite any infractions against the standards. The respondent is responsible for taking the proper measures if the involved officers violate the rules, which are meant to be guiding rather than obligatory. The Court dismissed all writ petitions and declining to intervene with the contested order in light of these factors.
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Written by- Rupika Goundla