NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court said today that it was ready to reduce a fine of Rs 25 lakh imposed on a social activist for filing a "frivolous" public interest litigation, if he amends his petition.
The top court, on July 3, last year, had slapped a fine of Rs 25 lakh on Karnataka-based activist T J Abraham for challenging, in a PIL, the shifting of mini Vidhan Soudha, an office complex of the government, by six kilometres in Gulbarga, Karnataka.
It had said that it was not in public interest.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, asked Abraham to file an amended application within two weeks and protected him against any coercive steps on account of non-submission of the the fine.
The petition was an abuse of the concept of public interest litigation as it did not espouse any kind of public cause, the apex court had said.
During the hearing of his petition seeking extension of time for payment of the fine and reduction in the amount, the bench refused to appreciate Abraham's contention that his counsel, senior advocate Salman Khurshid, did not present his case well.
Khurshid, who was also present, submitted that he had appeared "pro bono as a counsel". The petitioner, however, sent him a notice for not arguing his case properly.
The court then appointed Khurshid as an amicus curiae in the matter and asked him to file a fresh plea and posted the matter for further hearing on March 5.
"We are inclined to reduce the costs if the petitioner amends these applications keeping in view the concept of propriety," the bench said.
"In the meantime, no coercive steps be taken against the petitioner for realisation of costs," the court said.
Abraham later said that he has sent a Rs two crore notice to Khurshid.