Not A Case Warranting Exercise of Extraordinary Jurisdiction: Bombay High Court dismisses PIL seeking probe against Thackeray Family

Read Time: 09 minutes


The high court said that the petitioner was only speculating on the sudden rise in the prosperity index of the Thackeray family and it was not a fit case to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction.

A division bench of the Bombay High Court while dismissing the Public Interest Litigation filed seeking investigations into alleged disproportionate assets of former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his family observed it was not a fit case to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction.

“The Petitioners thus are attempting to seek a roving probe, monitored by this Court into the suspicions so entertained by the Petitioners based on nothing but bald allegations. This is thus certainly not a case warranting the exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India,” court stated. 

The high court also observed that the public prosecutor had made a statement in presence of the petitioner that the Economic Offence Wing had initiated an inquiry in the complaint made by the petitioner but the petitioner did not express her desire to withdraw the PIL.

“Ms A. S. Pai, learned Public Prosecutor informed us that a preliminary inquiry had been initiated by the EOW on the complaint which had been forwarded. This statement was made in the presence of the Petitioners, who however did not express any desire to withdraw the petition and, therefore, we have to proceed to decide the issues that arise in the present petition,” the order read.

The division bench while relying on the judgment in CBI vs Rajesh Gandhi said that it is a settled principle that an aggrieved person can only claim that the offences he alleges be investigated properly but he has no right to claim that it be investigated by any particular agency of his choice.

The court, in the order, stated that the remedy of the writ is discretionary in character and parties can be relegated to avail alternate remedies.

“Equally settled is the principle that the remedy of writ is discretionary in character and except in cases which involve enforcement of fundamental rights, violation of principles of natural justice or where vires of an Act are challenged or the proceedings are wholly without jurisdiction, the parties in appropriate cases may be relegated to avail the alternate remedy if the same is adequate and efficacious” the order read.

The court rejected the contention of the petitioner Gauri Bhide relying on the case of Param Bir Singh vs The State of Maharashtra & Ors and said that the high court had not directed to register an FIR but only ordered a preliminary inquiry by CBI. Court said that the directions were issued in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case where the high court was considering the allegations made by Param Bir Singh, who had also served as the Commissioner of Police, in Mumbai. However, in the matter before the court, no such circumstances exist as in the case of Param Bir Singh, the court underscored.

Court further observed that the petitioner was only speculating on the sudden rise in the prosperity index of the Thackeray family.

“On a reading of the complaint and the petition, it appears that the Petitioners are only speculating on the sudden rise in the prosperity index of the private Respondents from their humble beginning and, therefore, entertain a suspicion that the life style maintained by the said private Respondents could only be attributed to the corrupt practices in the B.M.C.. In any case there is absolutely no evidence or live link between the alleged malpractices in the B.M.C. and private Respondents herein,” the order read.

Court, therefore, imposed cost of Rs. 25000 on the petitioners and directed them to pay the same to the Advocate Welfare Fund within 2 months.

The plea filed by Gauri Bhide and Abhay Bhide alleged that during the lockdown and Corona period, when the entire print media in India was facing heavy losses, the company ‘Prabodhan Prakashan Pvt. Ltd.’,  owned by the Thackeray family, showed a turnover of 42 Crores and a profit of Rs.11.5 Crores.

The plea further stated that the PIL was filed to expose the huge money laundering and indiscriminate corruption played by the persons holding very high places as public servants.

The petition stated that there were transactions between the company owned by Thackrey's and the BMC and that they were benami transactions. Further, it stated, 

"It seems it's a clear case of turning the black money into white one. The unaccounted money gathered from BMC and other sources might have been dishonestly digested (sic) into the accounts of the above-mentioned company and fictitious figures of profit have been shown for this digestion."

Case title: Gauri Bhide & Anr vs UOI & Ors