Delhi HC Reserves Ruling in Juhi Chawla’s Suit Against 5G Roll-Out

Delhi HC Reserves Ruling in Juhi Chawla’s Suit Against 5G Roll-Out

Actor and environmental activist Juhi Chawla filed a case in the Delhi High Court raising concerns about the implementation of 5G technology in India. The court has reserved its judgment on the case during the hearing, which took place on 2 June 2021.

The suit, filed through advocate Deepak Khosla, sought a clarification from authorities that 5G technology doesn’t pose any danger to any living organism. The hearing took in the presence of the Delhi High Court bench of Justice Midha.

The essence of the suit – which addresses the dire and palpable risks to the public at large which an indiscriminate and admittedly-untested rollout of 5G cellular telecommunications technology entails – is that the State, on the principle that ‘prevention’ is better than ‘cure’, has an ongoing 24x7x365 duty to ensure the safety and health of its citizens, both the living as well as those yet to be born, which duty would extend to ensuring that products of a hazardous nature – or even a potentially hazardous nature – are not permitted to come into the economic mainstream till they are certified safe by the State, both for existing as well as future generations.

Excerpt from the plaint filed by Juhi Chawla, Veeresh Malik, and Teena Vachani, as reported by Bar & Bench

Adv. Khosla requested the court to consider a waiver of Section 80 for the case and said, ” 5G hasn’t been rolled out but trials are being done. This is not trials on pigs or rats or in empty thar dessert, or employees of respondent. These are trials on human population. Considering this, If court may consider granting me Waiver of section 80 of CPC.”

For clarity, Section 80 of the Civil Procedure court states that no suit shall be instituted against the Government or a public officer until after 2 months of sending them a notice in writing. Pollock Mulla wrote in ‘Code of Civil Procedure’ that section 80’s ‘underlying purpose is for the advancement of justice and security of public good by avoidance of unnecessary litigation’.

Section 80 is a mandatory compliance, and law says court is debarred from entertaining the suit unless there’s compliance. There’s only one exception, which requires them to file an application.

Advocate Amit Mahajan, representing the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)

The Centre was represented by Advocate S G Mehta who pointed out that the suit doesn’t fall under the gambit of Section 91 since there is no ‘public nuisance or wrongful act’. The Bench clarified a third condition: ‘likely to affect the public’, which was challenged by Mehta as a ‘qualification for the first two categories’.

Senior Adv. Kapil Sibal agreed with Mahajan and added, “Launching of 5G is a matter of policy of govt. The govt policy can only be set aside if it violates article 14 or other provisions of constitution, and that can be done through a writ petition.” Khosla defended that section 91 is only an ‘additional invocation’.

Khosla added that the suit was based on invoking the precautionary principle. “…burden of proof is not on me. So If I am saying there’s smoke, its on respondents to show there’s no fire,” he added.

The Bench asked Khosla if the government had been approached before the suit was filed and if there was any instance of denial of justice. Khosla denied approaching the government and the Bench maintained that the suit doesn’t fall under the purview of section 34 of the Specific Reliefs Act, as a result.

The Delhi High Court reserved its order in the suit filed by Juhi Chawla against the roll-out of 5G technology.


(With inputs from Live Law and Bar & Bench)

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