PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL)

Date: April 13, 2015

Supreme Court Justice P.M. Bhagwati

The term “PIL” originated in the United States in the mid-1980s. Since the nineteenth century, various movements in that country had contributed to public interest law, which was part of the legal aid movement.

Public Interest Litigation had begun in India towards the end of 1970s and came into full bloom in the 80s. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and Justice P.M. Bhagwati, honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India. They delivered some landmark judgements which opened up new vistas in PIL. 

Public Interest Litigation, in Indian law, means litigation for the protection of public interest. It is litigation introduced in a court of law, not by the aggrieved party but by the court itself or by any other private party. It is not necessary, for the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction, that the person who is the victim of the violation of his or her right should personally approach the court. Public Interest Litigation is the power given to the public by courts through judicial activism.

A PIL CAN BE FILED WHEN THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE FULFILLED:

  There must be a public injury and public wrong caused by the wrongful act or omission of the state or public authority.

  It is for the enforcement of basic human rights of weaker sections of the community who are downtrodden, ignorant and whose fundamental and constitutional rights have been infringed.

  It must not be frivolous litigation by persons having vested interests.          

WHO MAY FILE A PIL?

The Supreme Court (SC), through its successive judgements has relaxed the strict rule of ‘locus standi’ applicable to private litigation.

ANY PERSON CAN FILE A PIL PROVIDED:

  He is a member of the public acting bona fide and having sufficient interest in instituting an action for redressal of public wrong or public injury.

  He is not a mere busy body or a meddlesome interloper.

 His action is not motivated by personal gain or any other oblique consideration.

 


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