The order was passed by a Division Bench after the cine star volunteered to work with Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) for the cause of marignalised women and children.
“We reduce the cost from ₹20 to 2 lakhs. We are inclined to retain the part of the cost since we do find that the application moves along with the plaint particularly those under 149 and 80 CPC were completely wrong. Ms Chawla has appeared before us and volunteered that she would work with DSLSa in whose favour the cost had been awarded and which now reduced to 2 lakh, to advance the cause of deprived children and women who are in need of legal aid. She states that it would be an honours for her to render social service by featuring in their programmes,” the order said.
The Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh also expunged the adverse remarks made against Chawla by the single-judge who had said in his order that the suit by Chawla was frivolous and filed for publicity.
The Division Bench noted on Thursday that the suit may have been filed to espouse a genuine cause but the petitioners who did not have legal background or knowledge might have been unaware of the implications of the manner in which the plea came to be drafted.
“Having perused the impugned order on record, it appears to us that the plaintiffs, who do not come from legal background, should not be made to share the blame or consequences for the manner in which the suit and applications were drafted. The single-judge was also disturbed by the fact that the link of the hearing was circulated to the public at large which led to the proceedings getting disrupted,” the Division Bench noted.
Hence, it allowed Chawla to carry on with her pursuit against 5G before appropriate forum.
The Delhi High Court had, in June last year, imposed costs of ₹20 lakh on Juhi Chawla and two other plaintiffs, observing that the suit was filed to garner publicity noting that she had circulated the web link of the hearing on social media.
Though an application was later moved by the actress seeking waiver of cost, the Court expressed its displeasure and shock over the plaintiff’s conduct and reiterated its earlier order.
“The Court is shocked with the conduct of the plaintiff. Firstly, this is a frivolous action and secondly, the Court has gracefully granted the plaintiffs permission to withdraw with application on costs which they haven’t even deposited. Dispose of after the costs of ₹20 lakh have been paid by the plaintiff,” the single-judge had said.
During the hearing before the Division Bench on Tuesday, the Court had said that it will consider reducing the costs, if Chawla volunteers for some public work which could involve featuring in a programme for the DSLSA.