NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking correction of the age of the Chief of Army Staff. A Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia, Justice A K Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar declined to entertain the petition filed by the Grenadier Association of the Rohtak chapter, on behalf of Gen V K Singh, saying that an association cannot agitate on behalf of a private individual. As soon as the hearing commenced, Justice Kapadia exploded saying, “How could you annex the opinion of a former Chief Justice? How is this petition filed under Article 32 maintainable?” Senior advocate Bhim Singh, who is also the president of the Panthers’ Party, tried to justify the PIL quoting some judgments of the apex court. “The person who is aggrieved has to come before the court. We administer justice according to the law of the country. You show whether the petition is maintainable,” the Chief Justice persisted. Justice Patnaik, intervening, said, “If we pass any orders, we will be setting a bad precedent.” The Chief Justice again said, “On facts we are not going to say anything.”
“Anything that comes in the newspaper headlines is a PIL,” said Justice Patnaik. “In our view, a writ petition of this nature is not maintainable. We express nothing on its merits,” he added.
“This is purely a service matter. How can a PIL be filed on that?” the Chief Justice remarked. He directed the registry of the apex court not to accept in future any writ petitions where opinions of former Chief Justices are annexed.
It may be recalled that Gen Singh himself had filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the government that his date of birth be treated as May 10, 1951, and not as May 10, 1950. “We are not concerned with the opinions of the former CJIs. It is most improper and most unfortunate. We will not consider the opinion of former CJIs,” the Chief Justice said and pointed out that the former CJIs had said that their opinions were not to be put in court.