Updated: Oct 31, 2021
Author- Vidushi Gupta
Are you not satisfied with your surroundings and circumstances? Do you feel because of certain governmental policies the fundamental and basic rights of human beings are infringed or denied which are giving birth to corruption? So, you need to be familiar with Public Interest Litigation.
It is for all alert citizens of the country who by the means of their voice want to bring in positive change. Public Interest Litigation (hereinafter referred to as PIL) is a strong tool for all such individuals. It can be filed when human rights or fundamental rights are violated. It originated from the United States of America and was first introduced in the year 1980.
Three key features of PIL are :
1. Concerned citizen representing larger interest
2. Extra ordinary judicial remedy
3. It is a part of judicial activism
Who can file a PIL?
Any individual or organization can file a PIL either in his/her/their own standing i.e. to protect or enforce a right owed to him/her/them by the government or on behalf of a section of society who is disadvantaged or oppressed and is not able to enforce their own rights. It can be done on a normal piece of paper, flexible locus standi ,with minimal court fees i.e., affordability and court can issue writ in favour of person.
Here, flexible locus standi means the person whose right is infringed himself needs not to appear before court instead someone else can represent him/her.
In the 1970s Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and Justice P.N. Bhagwati introduced the concept of PIL by a revolution in PIL as it became a very important means of Justice. These two respective Justices are the architects of PIL.
It helps to create and enforce rights of individuals. The Judicial process involved in PIL is more democratic than the proceedings of a normal case. It was introduced because of lack of availability of common Public law during the 1970s, expensive legal fees, lack of proper legal knowledge and emergency.
Other objectives include:
1. Obtain social justice for all.
2. Solving a big issue in a legitimate and way through legal proceedings
3. As to claim rights against government or private action.
4. Welfare of large masses. So, it is very democratic.
Institutions dealing with PIL :
Hon’ble High Court and Supreme Court of India deals with PIL. Article 39A of Indian Constitution deals with PIL which states that “it is the duty of the state to protect and deliver social justice with the help of law.”
It can be registered as a writ petition in the High Court or Supreme Court. A single individual can file a PIL on behalf of a group of individuals.
Condition for filing a PIL:
1. PIL should not be politically motivated.
2. So, it should not have a hidden agenda and no malice intent involved.
3. No alternative mechanism.
4. Case of such a subject should not be pending in any other court.
Example: A health issue in a society is wide spreading. So, the initial step is to approach the respective health department. If no resolution is provided there, then, a PIL can be filed. Meaning there by there needs to be a representation made in the respective department first before filing a PIL.
Key Points for filing a PIL:
To file a PIL initially collect the relevant information and documents on the issue involved. Then the Petitioner (the person filing ) needs to decide the court in which he/she is willing to file a PIL i.e before Hon’ble High Court or Supreme Court of India. The form in which a PIL is filed must be abided by filing a PIL. And it must be in the name of the Chief Justice of India on filling in the Supreme Court. And lastly, Petitioner either himself for an appointed Advocate on his behalf needs to be present in the court. Court fees to be affixed on the petition is Rs. 50/- per Respondent, either on filling before Hon’ble High Court or Supreme Court.
PIL must contain the following relevant information in it before filing it in the court:
Petitioner’s name, postal address, email address, phone number, occupation, annual income and PAN number, Proof of identity of the Petitioner must be annexed, Facts of the case, Nature of the injury, Any personal interest that he/she/it may have, Details of any litigation involving the petitioner which could have a legal nexus with the issue involved in the PIL, The class of persons for whose benefit the PIL is being filed and how they are incapable of accessing the courts themselves , In the event that any representations have been made to any authorities regarding the issue, the details of the same, Any person/body/institution that may be affected by the PIL must be joined as a party and The Petitioner must also state that he/she/they are able to pay costs, if any, that may be imposed by the court.
Broader categories of plethora of cases filed as PIL:
Bonded Labour or forced labour, neglected children/ abandoned children, minimum wages, jail petition/police petitions, petitions for protection of women, custodial torture, petitions for protection of SC/ST, riot victims , environment and national interest (lynching)
The following category of cases are restricted to be filed as PIL:
Landlord tenant cases, transfer cases, family and property disputes
To stop misuse of PIL, to stop publicity, stop political vengeance Hon’ble Supreme Court held that PIL cannot be used against private individuals.
No anti- national interest litigation can be entertained by a medium of PIL. For this purpose, screening is done by the registrar. Also, penalty will be imposed on Contempt of court powers as held by Supreme Court in the case of forged documents, frivolous or false cases.
Merits of PIL:
1. Inexpensive remedy
2. Easy to file PIL as it can even be filed through post
3. It deals with health issue, human right issue, environment issue (where interest of larger individuals is involved)
Demerits of PIL:
1. PIL has become so popular that Supreme Court and High Court mostly deal every time with PIL rather than other cases, so pending cases are increasing.
2. The power of the High Court and Supreme Court are rising i.e., Judicial Activism.
Recently, it was termed as the second Legislature.
3. The political parties and public pressure groups are filling PIL for their mala fide intention.
When somebody has to help you out in need of justice then PIL is used. Concerned citizens raise their voice as a tool to represent a larger public interest. PIL acts as a Judicial restraint. It has changed the destiny of India. Many revolutionary steps have been taken because of the use of PIL in a successful way. It acts as a check on judicial activism which is mandatory. It helps to maintain balance between various powers of government.
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