HC expunges remarks against Juhi Chawla for lawsuit against 5G tech, reduces cost from Rs 20L to Rs 2L
The Delhi High Court Thursday expunged remarks made in an order against actress Juhi Chawla that she had filed the lawsuit challenging setting up of 5G wireless networks in the country, citing health hazards, for gaining publicity.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh also reduced the costs imposed on Chawla from Rs 20 Lakh to Rs 2 lakh, saying that she did not take up the 5G issue in a "frivolous and casual manner".
The court said part amount of the costs will be retained since some of the applications filed in the suit were indeed completely meritless.
The division bench allowed Chawla's appeal and set aside the single judge's June 4, 2021 order by which the suit filed by the actress-environmentalist and two others was dismissed with the observations that it was "defective", "abuse of process of law" and filed for "gaining publicity".
The actress, who was present in the virtual hearing, volunteered to work with the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) and feature in the programmes for empowering the marginalised section of the society.
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, representing Chawla, said the actress being a public concerned person had filed the suit highlighting the impact of 5G roll out on human body, and added that unfortunately the public issue was diluted due to the hyper technical difficulties in the order passed by the single judge regarding the law of pleadings.
Chawla submitted that she would be very happy to assist in any matter of public interest and she was thankful to the court for reducing the costs imposed on her.
"I would like to mention that I moved the suit for relief to my immediate family as well as all citizens of the entire country. I have been studying the effects of harmful radiation since 2010.The aspects related to my background and actions were totally ignored. It is a serious matter but it has been sidelined," she said.
She further said she was thankful to the bench for acknowledging that the matter is serious and it would be an honour for her to render services by featuring in the programmes of DSLSA.
"We see reports in newspapers that are proving us correct. It would have been truly heartening if the costs had been struck down completely since in-principle I feel that I did no wrong. But I appreciate it nonetheless. I also request that the comments regarding garnering publicity be also expunged from the records," she said.
The bench noted that Chawla has been taking up social causes and it has no intentions to doubt her when she raised the 5G issue; however, the exemptions sought by her in the suit probably hurt the single judge as she cannot say that court fees should not be charged from her.
"This portrays that the plaintiffs are approaching court in a casual way which we are sure you were not. May be you could have a better counsel who could have advices you better," it said.
"We wanted her here so that she can hear us. We do not discount the fact that you want to raise a serious issue. The problem is when you show complete disregard to the law. You say you will not pay the court fees as it takes years in deciding cases. You look so frivolous when you do that," it observed.
Sharing an instance of the days when Justice Sanghi was practicing as an advocate, he said, "'acha wakil bhi both kismat se milta hai' (you get a good lawyer by luck). Sometimes you land up in the wrong hands." Justice Sanghi said one has to use his or her own intelligence also and as a litigant, have to keep their antennas open.
On a lighter side, Khurshid said: "The whole issue is antennas have been put in the wrong direction. It is an attempt to put antennas in the right direction." The bench said unfortunately what appears is that filing of an application for exemption from court fees on the ground that cases are not decided for several years, gave an impression to the single judge that the plaintiffs were not taking up their cause with any seriousness.
"It appears to us that the plaintiffs who do not come from legal background should not be made to share the blame for consequences of the manner in which the applications in the suit were drafted.
"Single judge was also disturbed by the fact that the weblink of the hearing was shared to the public at large which led to disruption in the hearing," the bench said.
"Miss Chawla has appeared before us and volunteered that she would work with DSLSA, in whose favour Rs 20 lakh costs was awarded which has now been reduced to Rs 2 lakh, for deprived class of women and children who are in need of assistance," it said.
Khurshid told the bench that the plaintiffs have learnt a lesson from their past experience and will raise the 5G issue afresh in an appropriate manner and liberty was granted by the court in this regard.
DSLSA secretary Kanwaljeet Arora said he was a big fan of "madam Chawla" and in case she agrees to work for the committee, it will be helpful for the marginalised section and it will empower them.
When the bench, at the fag end of the hearing, said "may be all this happened to bring you to DSLSA", Chawla responded, "Universe has its way".
The suit had sought a direction to the authorities to certify to the public at large that how 5G technology is safe to humans, animals and every type of living organism, flora and fauna.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)