All about Public Interest Litigation


Posted On : April 17, 2017
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Public Interest litigation, itself says that this is a litigation for any public interest. It is entirely a new litigation started by the Supreme Court to give chance to the poor and other oppressed persons of society to knock the door of High Court or Supreme Court for enforcing their Fundamental Rights. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) can be filed in any High Court or directly in the Supreme Court.It is not necessary that the petitioner has suffered some injury of his own or has had a personal grievance to litigate. PIL is a right given to the socially conscious member or a public spirited NGO to espouse a public cause by seeking judicial for redressal of public injury. Such injury may arise from breach of public duty or due to a violation of some provision of the Constitution. Public interest litigation is the device by which public participation in the judicial review of administrative action is assured. It has the effect of making judicial process little more democratic. History It was in the case of SP Gupta vs Union of India that the Supreme Court of India defined the term Public Interest Litigation in the Indian Context. The concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is in consonance with the principles enshrined in Article 39A of the Constitution of India to protect and deliver prompt social justice with the help of law. Before the 1980s, only the aggrieved party could approach the courts for justice. After the emergency era, the high court reached out to the people, devising a means for any person of the public (or an NGO) to approach the court seeking Legal remedy in cases where the public interest is at stake. Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer were among the first judges to admit PILs in court. Filing a PIL is not as cumbersome as a usual legal case; there have been instances when letters and telegrams addressed to the court have been taken up as PILs and heard. When can a Pil Be Filled:  According to the guidelines of the Supreme Court any member of the public having sufficient interest may maintain an action or petition by way of PIL provided: • There is a personal injury or injury to a disadvantaged section of the population for whom access to the legal justice system is difficult. • The person bringing the action has sufficient interest to maintain an action of public injury. • The injury must have arisen because of breach of public duty or violation of the Constitution or of the law. • It must seek enforcement of such public duty and observance of the constitutional law or legal provisions. • This is a powerful safeguard and has provided immense social benefits, where there is essentially failure on the part of the execute to ameliorate the problems of the oppressed citizens. Considering the importance of this subject, three articles from the web on the subject are reproduced hereunder.

Against Whom Public Interest Litigation Can Be Filed?

Now, this is a curious part of PIL that if any public spirited person wants to file PIL in a court of law but the question is where? So the answer is this that any public spirited person can file any PIL but only against the state govt./ central govt. or any municipality authority but against to any private party but it doesn't mean that private party does not come under the sphere of PIL. A private party also can be tried by the PIL by acting a role of respondent after making concern by the state authorities. For example- If there is a Private factory in Delhi, which is causing pollution, then people living nearly, or any other person can file a PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION against:
  1. Government of Delhi
  2. State Pollution Control Board, and
  3. Also against the private factory
But public interest litigation can not file against an only private party without concerning state govt. or central govt. as in the above case, this case was against the union of India not to that corporation whose fault was there. Filing of a PIL • Collect all the relevant information • Be meticulous in gathering detail for use in the case. If you plan to use photographs, retain the negatives and take an affidavit from the photographer. Retain bills. • Write to the relevant authorities and be clear about your demands. • Maintain records in an organized fashion. • Consult a lawyer on the choice of forum. • Engage a competent lawyer. If you are handling the matter yourself make sure you get good legal advice on the drafting. • A PIL can be filed only by a registered organization. If you are unregistered, please file the PIL in the name of an office bearer/member in his/her personal capacity. • You may have to issue a legal notice to the concerned parties/authorities before filing a PIL.Filing a suit against the government would require issuing a notice to the concerned officer department at least two months prior to filing. Cases Related To PIL State Of West Bengal vs Union Of India And Others, AIR 1996 Cal 181. Ramsharan Autyanuprasi & Anr vs Union Of India & Ors  1989 AIR 549. Common Cause (A Regd. Society) Vs. Union of India AIR 2008 SC 2116. Sanganmal Pandey vs state of U.P. Conclusion All said and done, it may be concluded that Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been an invaluable innovative judicial remedy It has translated the rhetoric of fundamental rights into living reality for at least some segments of our exploited and downtrodden humanity. Under trial prisoners languishing in jails for inordinately long periods, inmates of asylums and care-homes living in sub-human conditions, children working in hazardous occupations and similarly disadvantaged sections.    

Written By:
sneha majumder

sneha majumder


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