HC directs 'serial litigant' to clean beach for a week

HC directs 'serial litigant' to clean beach for a week
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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed a "serial litigant", who claimed he filed his pleas for society's betterment, to do some "real social work" like beach cleaning to prove his bona fides.

A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre directed Rakesh Chavan, who had filed a PIL alleging illegal use of land by a private company, to approach beach cleanup crusader Afroz Shah on September 2 and participate in whatever work Shah gives him for a week.

In the meanwhile, the court said, it will keep Chavan's petition pending.

The direction came while the bench was hearing his Public Interest Litigation against the Maharashtra government, various state departments and private company NESCO over alleged illegal use of land.

Chavan claimed a land parcel owned by NESCO in the city used to originally be the site for a well and a lake.

While NESCO was now using the plot for some industrial exhibition centre, Chavan claimed such use was illegal. He urged the court to direct the authorities to restore the lake and the well on the site.

NESCO's counsel Prasad Dakhephalkar, however, told the court that the plot was bought by the company after following all applicable rules back in the 1970s.

He said following the PIL, the company had done some research and realized a lake did exist on the site, but that was around 400 years ago.

Dakhephalkar also told the court that the petitioner was a "serial litigant", who approached the high court whenever he came to know of any new private construction.

He said NESCO was planning to demolish the existing exhibition hall and construct a new one at the same site.

At this, the petitioner said he filed his pleas to ensure "social uplift and betterment of society".

Taking note of his submission, the bench said, "You want to work for the betterment of society, then do some real social work now. Go clean some beach, or do any other work that Afroz Shah assigns to you for a week." 

The court also directed the state to ensure that Chavan went to Shah's office once on September 2 and did whatever was assigned to him. 

Shah, a lawyer at the Bombay High Court, was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his radio programme Mann Ki Baat' in 2017 for the cleanliness work done by him and his team to transform the Versova beach. 

He had also received the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) awarded Champion of the Earth' Award. 

In October last year, the High Court had quashed a case of criminal intimidation against two persons and directed them to volunteer for the suburban Versova beach clean-up project led by Shah every weekend for one month.

According to the police, the duo had threatened a man with a replica gun and demanded that he open his restaurant and serve them.