PIL – Public Interest Litigation
What is a PIL anyway?
PIL – The Protector of Fundamental Rights. According to the Indian Penal Code, public interest litigation means, litigation to protect the interest of the general public. Public interest litigation is like a power, given to the public, by the Judiciary, via judicial activism.
Basics of Public Interest Litigation
It is introduced in a court of law, sometimes not by the victim himself, but by the court or any other individual or organization on the victim’s behalf.
The person, who is affected, does not even need to approach the court, in such cases.
Such cases may occur, when the victim does not have the necessary resources to file litigation or his freedom to approach the court, may have been blocked. In such cases, the court can itself take up the matter (Suo Motu, or “on its own motion”) or, cases can proceed, based on the petition of any public-spirited individual.
However, the person filing the petition must prove in the court, that the petition that is being filed, is in the interest of the public, and not for personal gains.
Public interest litigation or social interest litigation today has great significance and draws the attention of those, who are concerned. The traditional concept of “Locus Standi”, meaning, only that person, whose right has been infringed alone, can file a petition, has been relaxed by the Supreme Court, nowadays.
How it all begin?
The original seeds of the concept were sown in India, by Justice Krishna Iyer, in 1976, in Mumbai. In the famous case of Mumbai Kamgar Sabha vs. M/s Abdulbhai Faizullabhai, Judge Krishna Iyer gave a landmark judgment and the idea of ‘Public Interest Litigation’ had matured, in S.F. Gupta and others vs. Union of India case.
How and Where to file the petition?
Any entitled citizen can approach the court for a public cause, (for the welfare of the public) by filing a petition, either in the Supreme Court under Article 32, High Court under Article 226 or in the Court of Magistrate under Sec.133.
To ensure that, Fundamental Rights do not remain mere empty declarations, the founding fathers, added provisions to the Constitution, for the establishment of an independent judiciary.
This power lies with both, the Supreme Court and the High Courts-The courts that have heard all the PIL cases till date.
- In Public Interest Litigation (PIL), enlightened citizens can find an affordable, legal, solution, as there is a small court fee involved.
- Also, via the PIL, the litigants can divert everyone’s attention towards results, where larger public issues are involved, especially in the field of human right violations, consumer welfare, and the environment.
- Genuine cases of public interest and welfare have receded, and irresponsible PIL activists have started a significant but destructive role. PIL has been used as a handy tool of harassment by filing frivolous cases and later demanding settlements.
- The framers of the Indian constitution did not inculcate, a strict regime of separation of powers, but, put in a system of checks and balances. This can be highly misused, against the very purpose, it was supposed to serve.
Hope our article informed you something interesting about Public Interest Litigation.
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