New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted a week to Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla and two others to deposit Rs 20 lakh in costs imposed on them for abusing the process of law by way of their lawsuit challenging 5G wireless network technology.
The court is shocked at the conduct of the plaintiffs, Justice J R Midha said as he observed that Chawla and others were not even willing to gracefully deposit the costs.
The judge was hearing three applications moved by the actor for refund of court fees, waiver of costs and replacing the word ‘dismissed’ in the judgement with ‘rejected’.
The court’s reaction came after Chawla’s counsel, Senior Advocate Meet Malhotra’s, after withdrawing the application for waiver of costs, said that costs would either be deposited in a week or ten days, or legal remedies against the same would be taken.
“On one hand you move frivolous application and on the other hand, you withdraw the application and plaintiffs are not even willing to gracefully deposit the costs”, the court said.
The court stated that it, in fact, took a lenient view when it imposed costs of Rs 20 lakh on Chawla and others and did not initiate contempt proceedings.
“I was shocked… This court took a lenient view and did not issue contempt when case was made out… I was totally inclined. You say court had no power to impose costs (but) court has the power to issue contempt,” the court said as it took strong exception to the application.
Malhotra clarified that the stand was not that the costs would not be paid, and did not even pressing the application for its waiver.
“It is unintended… Today also, this is my instruction that nobody said that they wouldn’t. I saw what happened (in the judgement). I fully understand,” he said. The court recorded Malhotra’s statement that he sought a weeks’ time to deposit costs and that recourse may be taken to avail legal remedies.
The application for refund of court fees was also withdrawn by Malhotra. Advocate Deepak Khosla, appearing for Chawla and others, informed that the court fee had already been paid.
“I’m yet to see a person in my judicial career a person who is not willing to pay court fees,” the judge remarked as the application was dismissed as withdrawn. “Let bygones be bygones,” Malhotra urged the court.
The court ordered that the third application seeking rejection of plaint would be placed before Justice Sanjeev Narula after the deposit of court fees. Malhotra argued that plaint, which “never went up to the level of suit”, could only be rejected or returned in terms of the Civil Procedure Code, and not dismissed.
Further hearing in the case will take place on July 12.
In June, the high court had dismissed the lawsuit by Chawla and other others against the setting up of 5G wireless networks in the country and slapped a cost of Rs 20 lakh. The court had described the plea as “defective”, “abuse of process of law” and filed for “gaining publicity”.
Justice Midha said the plaint in which questions have been raised about health hazards due to the 5G technology was “not maintainable” and was “stuffed with unnecessary scandalous, frivolous and vexatious averments” which are liable to be struck down.
The court said the suit filed by actress-environmentalist and others was to gain publicity which was clear as Chawla circulated the video conferencing link of the hearing on her social media account which resulted in the repeated disruptions thrice by unknown miscreants who continued disruptions despite repeated warnings.
The suit 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.
It said that if the telecom industry’s plans for 5G came to fruition, no person, animal, bird, insect and plant on earth will be able to avoid exposure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to levels of RF radiation that are 10x to 100x times greater than what exists today.