• Legis Scriptor

Janata dal v. H.S.Chowdhary and ors,1992

Authored by Shaik Uzma

Key words: locus-standi, suo motu, public interest litigation.

Name of the Case: Janata dal v. H.S.Chowdhary and ors,1992

Equivalent Citation: AIR 1993 SC 892, 1993 CriLJ 600, 1992 (3) Crimes 199 SC, JT 1992 (5) SC 213, 1992 (2) SCALE 338, (1992) 4 SCC 305, 1992 Supp 1 SCR 226

Name of the parties: Janata dal and H.S Chowdhary

Bench: S Pandian, K J Reddy


Where an investment agency such as CBI and the Union of India are essentially contesting the matter, a third party was not allowed to canvass the Judgment by way of litigation of public interest (PIL).


The essence of the charges in the FIR is that the accused, identified and unidentified, entered into a criminal enterprise and received unlawful gratification in the form of money from BEFORE, a Swedish company through the agent / companies / persons as a bribe or compensation for those public servants who, through unlawful means or through otherwise deceptive use of their official role as public servants. BEFORE, the agents and others had committed offences of criminal breach of confidence, bribery, forgery and the use of fake documents in awarding contracts to BEFORE for the supply of weapons to the Government of India and in the transaction.


● In August 1980, the Ministry of Defense of India accepted a proposal submitted by the Headquarters of the Army proposing, inter alia, the introduction of 155 mm medium-caliber guns both towed and self-propelled to meet its operational defence requirements. In December 1982 the option to acquire the said gun system was shortlisted to (1) M / s. French sofma (2) M / s. A.B. BEFORE Sweden (3) M/s. UK's Overseas Security Branches And M / s (4) Austrian voestalpine. A further short listing of Sofma and BEFORE occurred in November 1985. Lastly, on 24 March 1986, The Government of India placed an order for the supply of the 155 mm Field Howitzer 77-B gun system with 410 numbers (400 plus 10 free)/ spare guns vide contract No. 6(9)/84 / D (GS-IV) for a total amount of SEK 8410,66 million (Swedish Kroners) (equivalent to approximately Rs 1437,72 crores). The related gun kit (towed) supply contract and other related agreements / contracts were concluded and signed with M / s on 24th March 1986. A.B. BEFORE.

● On 17 April 1987, some of our country's leading newspapers provided prominent coverage of the previous day's Swedish Radio Broadcast, broadcasting that bribes had been paid to senior Indian politicians and key Security figures in order to win the contract given by the Government of India to M / s. Before Sweden on 24 March 1986.

● The defence minister (Shri K.C Pant) moved a motion in Lok Sabha on 29 July 1987 to name the JPC.


⮚ On 17 April 1987, Swedish Radio reiterated the accusation that it had direct evidence of transfers to Indian accounts in Swiss banks in four installment the government of India declared the allegations made by the Swedish Radio was false.

⮚ During the course of the discussion in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, the government decided to set up a joint parliamentary committee and it gave a conclusion that there is no evidence.

⮚ Meanwhile a superintendent of police, New Delhi registered an F.I.R under section 120-B

⮚ While that was the case, the CBI lodged an application before the Special Judge, namely Shri R.C. Jain, demanding that a letter of rogatory be given to Switzerland as a matter of urgency in order to obtain the required assistance.

⮚ Harinder Singh Chowdhary, an Advocate filed a petition under article51(A) praying to maintain the dignity in the matter of rogatory letter and inquiry under section 340 Cr.P.C. It was held that there is no locus-standi and the petition was dismissed.

⮚ The revision petition was registered with the High Court of Delhi as Criminal Miscellaneous No. 1821 of 1990. During the trial of this case, various political parties and others, one of whom was Mr. Shanti Bhushan, one of whom was a Supporter of this Bar, and one of whom was Mr. N. Ram, and so forth, filed multiple requests for intervention. As there is no locus-standi , they were dismissed.

⮚ While exercising powers under Sections 397 and 401, I sue motu to read Section 482 of the Code and guide the office to register the case under the title, court on its own motion vs. State and CBI.

⮚ Feeling aggrieved by the above order of Justice Chawla of Delhi High Court, all these criminal appeals and the Writ petition have been filed before this Court. This Court in Criminal Appeal No. 304 of 1991 (from SLP Criminal No. 2476 of 1990 lodged by Janata Dal) on 20 December 1990.


⮚ Whether a petition filed by the Mr. H.S. Chowdhary maintainable or not?

⮚ Whether the suo motu action is maintainable or not?

⮚ Whether a petition filed by the janata dal is maintainable or not?


Mr H.S Chowdhary has no locus standi to file a petition as a litigant in the public interest pursuant to Article 51-A, Requesting that no letter of appeal be lodged at the CBI 's request and that it be allowed to file an inquiry with the Special Court on 5 February 1990, guided the question of a letter of rogatory / appeal to the competent judicial authorities of the Confederation of Switzerland; and Invoking the High Court's revisional jurisdiction pursuant to Sections 397 and 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure questioning the validity, legality or property of the Special Judge's order of 18 August 1990, and invoking the High Court 's extraordinary jurisdiction pursuant to Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to quash the first record of knowledge dated January 1990 and Any other proceedings resulting from the motion to avoid misuse of the court's proceedings. In our considered view, Mr H.S Chowdhary's initiation of the present proceedings under Article 51-A of the India Constitution does not fall within the real sense and reach of the litigation in the public interest.

The appellants, namely Janata Dal, Indian Communist Party (Marxist) and Indian Congress (Socialist) who are equally before this Court, have no right to pursue their impleadment. Dr. P. Nalla Thampy Thera also has no right to file the 1991 Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 114 as a litigant in the public interest, for the same reasons.

As a result, we comply with Mr. Justice M.K. Chawla's first part of the order of 19 December 1990 holding that the parties do not have a locus standi. However, we set aside the second part of the impugned order by which he took suo motu cognizance and gave show-cause notice to the State and CBI, and the show-cause notice given by him is quashed accordingly.In 1991 Criminal Complaint Summation Nos. 304, 305, 306, 307, 308 and 309 was dismissed. Criminal Appeal No. 310 of 1991 lodged by the Union of India against the High Court's judgement of 5 September 1990 is dismissed in the light of the fact that that order does not survive for consideration when the final decision of 19 December 1990 is passed.

For the reasons set out above, criminal appeal No. 311 of 1991 filed by Union of India and CBI is admissible. In this regard, the amount and substance of Mr. Justice Chawla 's order is that Harinder Singh Chowdhary has no locus standi to file the petition for revision and, therefore, his petition for revision was untenable and, therefore, all the applicants (interveners) have no right to be imploded and that the requests for impalement / intervention may be denied.

Concepts Highlighted

Public interest litigation

'PIL' means a civil case brought before a Court of Law to protect the public interest or the general interest in which the public or a collective class has a pecuniary interest.

Thus, the definition of PIL that has been and is being fostered by judicial activism has become increasingly relevant, creating valuable and respectable records, especially in the area of constitutional and legal care for the unrepresented. Public interest litigation is part of the participating justice mechanism and needs to have liberal acceptance at the judicial doorsteps of civil litigation of that type.

Locus Standi

It is imperative to set out clear guidelines and proposals; and outline the right criteria for entertaining a Public Interest Lawsuit-especially on the subject of locus standi but no hard and fast rules have been formulated and no detailed guidelines have been created. There is also one opinion that such adumbration is not necessary and it would not be expedient to lay down any general rule that will in all circumstances control all situations. The locus standi requirement of a party to the litigation is mandatory; since the parties' legal capacity for any action, whether in private or public courts, in relation to any particular remedy sought, must be assessed primarily at the threshold.