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Public Interest Litigation


The expression Public Interest Litigation is borrowed from American jurisprudence such as the poor, racial minorities, unorganized consumers, and citizens passionate about environmental issues. It was designed to provide legal representation to a previously unrepresented group, etc. It means lawsuits filed in the Court of law for the protection of Public Interest like pollution, terrorism, road safety construction, etc. Any matter where the interest of the public at large is affected can be redressed by filing a Public Interest Litigation in the Court.

Public Interest Litigation is not defined in any statute or any act. It has been interpreted by the judges to consider the intention of the public at large.

The petition is the power given to the public by the Courts through judicial activism. However, the person filing the petition has to prove to the satisfaction of the Courts that the petition is being filed for a Public Interest and not as litigation by anybody engaged.

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Some of the matters which are entertained under PIL are:

  • Bonded Labour matters
  • Neglected Children
  • Non-payment of minimum wages to workers and exploitation of casual workers
  • Atrocities on women
  • Environmental pollution and disturbance of ecological balance
  • Food adulteration

Factors responsible for the growth of PIL in India: –

  1. The character of the Indian constitution
  2. Progressive social legislation
  3. A liberal interpretation of Locus standi
  4. Although social and economic rights are given in the Indian constitution.
  5.  Judicial innovations to help the poor and marginalized
  6. In PIL cases where the petitioner is not in a position to provide all the necessary evidence either because it is large or because the party is socially and economically weak.

Who can File a PIL and against whom?

Any citizen can file a public case by filing a petition: –

  1. In the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India
  2. In the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India
  3. 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure under sec. in the Court of Magistrate.
  4. However, the court must be satisfied that the writ petition fulfills certain basic requirements for a PIL as the aggrieved person of the letter is a public person. Also, any person is legally liable or is addressed by a social action group for enforcement of constitutional rights which is not competent to approach the court for redress.
  5. Public interest litigation can be filed against a state/central government/municipal authority and not against any private party.
  6. The definition of a State is the same as that given under Article 12 of the Constitution and includes the Government of India and the Parliament and the Government and Legislature of each State and all local bodies within the territory of India or under the control of the government of India.

Significance of PIL: –

  • The Public Interest Litigation Objective is to provide access to the common people to the courts for seeking legal redress.
  • Public interest litigation is an important tool for accelerating social change and maintaining the rule of law and balance between law and justice.
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  • The basic objective of PILs is to create a new beginning for the poor and marginalized.
  • It is an important tool for building human rights.
  • reach those who have been denied rights.
  • It democratically assumes access to justice for all. Any citizen or organization that is competent may petition on behalf of those who do not have or do not have the means to do so.
  • Helps in judicial oversight of state institutions like Jai-Jai Lo Asylum and Security Home etc.
  • An important tool for implementing the concept of judicial review.

Certain Weakness of PIL: –

  • Public interest litigation proceedings can sometimes give rise to a problem of competitive rights for example when a court orders the closure of polluting industries or Farms of shopkeepers and their families deprived of their livelihood cannot be taken into account by the court.
  • This can put an excessive burden on the courts with frivolous PILs by parties with vested interests.
  • PILs today are appropriated for corporate political and personal gains Today PILs are no longer limited to the problems of the poor and the exploited.
  • In the process of solving socio-economic or environmental problems, justice may be done through PILs by the judiciary.
  • PILs relating to exploited and disadvantaged groups are pending for many years. The inordinate delay in the disposal of PIL cases can lead to several major decisions being of educational value only.

Judgments: –

Hussainara Khatoon V. State of Bihar (1979)

It is the reported first case of PIL which focused on the humane conditions of living and undertrials that led to the release of more than 40,000 undertrials.

The right to speedy justice emerged as a basic fundamental right that was not granted to those prisoners. The same set pattern was followed in the rest of the cases.

Justice P.N Bhagawati in the case of S.P Gupta vs. Union of India,

In this case, it was assumed that any member of the publicized social action group was actually working. High Court can seek redressal against legal or infringement of right of jurisdiction under Article 226 or Supreme Court under Article 32. Constitutional rights of persons who had social knowledge or any other disability could not approach the court.

Justice Bhagwati did much to ensure that the concept of the injured was clearly enunciated. What I did not give on the cross of procedural technicalities and even ordinary letters of public-minded persons were treated as writ petitions.

Conclusion: –

Public interest litigation has yielded astonishing results that were unimaginable three decades ago. Degraded bonded labourers, tortured under trials and women prisoners, humiliated inmates of protective women’s homes, blinded prisoners, exploited children, beggars, and many others have been given relief through judicial intervention.

For those interested in consumer rights litigation, our blog ‘Consumer Rights Bata Inox‘ offers insights into significant consumer rights cases and issues. This blog can help you understand the scope of consumer protection and the strategies used to address violations, enhancing your ability to engage in public interest litigation related to consumer issues.

The biggest contribution of PIL has been to increase the accountability of governments towards the human rights of the poor.

Public interest litigation develops a new juncture of accountability of the state for constitutional and legal entanglements prejudicial to the interests of weak facts in the community.

Understanding the filing process in consumer courts can also empower individuals to seek justice. Our blog ‘Consumer Court Complaint Filing Process‘ breaks down the steps involved in lodging a complaint, which is crucial for those looking to address grievances related to consumer rights violations effectively. Gain the knowledge needed to navigate the legal system and advocate for consumer rights more effectively.

Still, have any legal doubt, contact the Legal Experts of AapkaConsultant.com

(अपनी क़ानूनी समस्या को 1 कॉल परअभी सॉल्व करे )


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