Plea defective, done for media publicity: Delhi HC on Juhi Chawla’s petition against rollout of 5G technology

The virtual hearing was marred by uncouth conduct by an unidentified visitor who started singing songs from Juhi Chawla's movies, prompting the Bench to issue a contempt of court notice

Plea defective, done for media publicity: Delhi HC on Juhi Chawla’s petition against rollout of 5G technology

NH Web Desk

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday remarked that the plea filed by Bollywood actor Juhi Chawla against the rollout of 5G technology in the country was ‘defective’ and ‘done for media publicity’.

The court pointed out the several lapses in Chawla's plaint in terms of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), Bar & Bench reported.

"I'm quite surprised. You are seeking permission for what? Defective plaint? This is for media publicity," Justice JR Midha remarked.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central government, also argued that the suit was frivolous and barred under Section 9 of the Code.

"The suit really is frivolous. These are rare instances where power under Section 9 may be exercised. There is no cause of action," Mehta said.

Central Government standing counsel Amit Mahajan also opposed the suit on the ground that it was not maintainable.

Chawla along with Veeresh Malik and Teena Vachani (plaintiffs) filed the suit before the High Court, arguing that until and unless 5G technology is "certified safe", its roll out should not be permitted.

Advocate Deepak Khosla arguing on behalf of Chawla and other plaintiffs said that it was an established fact that there "could be danger of imminent nature" due to 5G.

"5G rollout has not happened but trial involving human population is going to happen (with the rollout). These are not pigs and rats.. these are trials on human population," he said.

Khosla stated that there were RTI responses from ICMR that no studies had been conducted with respect to the harmful effect of 5G technology.

Clarifying that he was "not attacking 5G technology", Khosla submitted, "I am saying there is smoke. It is for the defendant to show that it is nonsensical smoke. Probably agarbatti smoke. I'm a cellphone user. I'm being radiated at constantly.. all along I'm showing there is harm, harm, harm.."

Objections were raised by SG Mehta and Mahajan on the suit being barred in view of Sections 80 and 91 of the CPC.

"This case does not fall under any category of public nuisance or wrongful act that is prohibited by law. 5G is not prohibited by law. It is permitted subject to condition," SG Mehta said.

During the course of the hearing, the court questioned Khosla as to how a plaint was filed without verification when Juhi Chawla and other plaintiffs had themselves admitted they had no personal knowledge of the averments.

"I've not seen a suit where a person says I don't know, please conduct an inquiry," the court exclaimed.

The court also expressed its reservations on the plaint having as many as 33 defendants including private universities and World Health Organization.

"It is not the sweet will of the plaintiff to join as many parties and cause of action," the court said.

The court further questioned Khosla as to how a suit seeking declaratory relief under Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act would be maintainable without the plaintiffs first approaching the government.

"Where is the cause of action for coming to court? If they take decision against you, you can come.. nobody can straight away come to the court," it said.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal also appeared for certain private telecom companies and argued that 5G was the policy of the government and the same could only be challenged by way of a writ petition.

He added that when it is a policy of the government, it can't be a wrongful act.

"What is the public nuisance? It has to be established first. You can't make an averment and get relief," Sibal contended.

After hearing the parties on the issue of court fees and institution of suit, the court reserved order on these aspects.

Incidentally, the virtual hearing was marred by uncouth conduct by an unidentified visitor who started singing songs from Chawla's movies.

The interruptions began right from the beginning of the hearing when some visitor persistently kept asking "where is Juhi ma'am. I can't see Juhi ma'am." Later someone was heard singing songs from movies in which Chawla acted.

Justice JR Midha, who was hearing the case, initially asked the court staff to mute the concerned person.

"I hope these are not distractions from the defendants," submitted Deepak Khosla who was appearing for Chawla.

The singing, however, persisted prompting the court to ask the court master to lock the meeting.

The hearing then continued for sometime before it was once again interrupted by the same person singing songs.

The court then decided to go ahead and direct contempt of court action.

"Please identify and issue contempt notice. Contact Delhi Police IT Department. We will issue notice," said Justice Midha.

Interestingly, Chawla herself had tweeted about the hearing in the matter inviting people to join and also provided the web link to the virtual hearing.

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