Abul Kalam Azad Sulthan, Advocate, Madurai Bench of High Court of Judicature at Madras

M.C.Mehta v. Union of India dated 20.12.1986

AIR 1987 SC 1086 – (1987) 1 ACC 157 – (1987) 1 SCC 395

Coram: Justice P.N. Bhagwati, Justice Ranganath Misra, Justice G.L. Oza, Justice M.M.Dutt and Justice K.N.Singh

The issue decided in the above case is whether a letter addressed to an individual judge of a court can be entertained and treated as a Writ Petition. Earlier in Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India, AIR 1984 SC 802, the judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India were hesitating to entertain letters addressed to individual judges and treat as Writ Petition because the judges apprehended that if the letters to individul judges are entertained and treated as Writ Petitions, that will lead to numerous frivolous cases. Hence earlier it was decided that such letters addressed to individual judges do not invoke the Writ Jurisdiction of the Court and decided that such letters should not be addressed to individual justices of the Court but those letters can be addressed to the Court or to the Chief Justice and his companion judges.

The above decision was overturned in the instant case (M.C.Mehta v. Union of India dated 20.12.1986). The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that it was not just and right to reject a letter addressed to an individual judge of a Court on the sole ground that it was not addressed to the Court or the Chief Justice and his companion judges. The Hon’ble Apex Court has also observed that the Court must remember that these letters are usually sent by poor and disadvantaged persons or by not for profit social action groups and they may not be aware of the proper mode of addressing. Further it was observed that most of those disadvantaged and poor persons or social action groups are aware of the name of some particular judge who is hailing from their state and address to him.