Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a litigation that is filed in Court of Law in public interest, issues such as corruption, malpractices 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 maintenance of heritage and culture, etc. Basically, any matter which affects the public at large.
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. The first legal aid office was established in New York in 1876. In the 1960s the PIL movement began to receive financial support from the office of Economic Opportunity, this encouraged lawyers and public-spirited persons to take up cases of the under-privileged and fight against dangers to environment and public health and exploitation of consumers and the weaker sections.
Public Interest Litigation is not defined in any statute or in any act. It has been interpreted by judges to consider the intent of public at large. Although, the main and only focus of such litigation is “Public Interest” there are various areas where a PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION can be filed.
A PIL can be filed by anyone, the only condition is that it needs to be filed in public interest. The concept of locus standi does not apply here, which means if the person filing the PIL may or may not be directly connected to the case in question.
The court can itself take cognizance of the matter and proceed Suo motu or cases can commence on the petition of any public spirited individual.
The concept of PIL was first introduced in India by Justice Krishna Iyer in 1976
In the case of Mumbai Kamagar Sabha vs. Abdul Thai.
The first reported case of PIL was that of Hussainara Khatoon vs. State of Bihar (1979) that focused on the inhuman conditions of prisons and under trial prisoners that led to the release of more than 40,000 under trial prisoners.
The concept of PIL was taken further by Justice P.N. Bhagwati in the case of S.P. Gupta V. Union of India.
A PIL can be filed in a simple letter addressing the issue and it will be considered by the Court if deemed fit. The Petition will be considered as a Writ Petition only in the following cases,
(i) It is only where the letter is addressed by an aggrieved person or
(ii) A public-spirited individual or
(iii) A social action group for enforcement of the constitutional or the legal rights of a person in custody or of a class or group of persons who by reason of poverty, disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position find it difficult to approach the court for redress.
The greatest contribution of PIL has been to enhance the accountability of the governments towards the human rights of the poor. The PIL develops a new jurisprudence of the accountability of the state for constitutional and legal violations adversely affecting the interests of the weaker elements in the community.
It is also the duty of the citizens and lawyers, not file frivolous petitions in Court of Law. Doing so will waste the precious time of the Court and will also make diminish the true and valuable purpose of Public Interest Litigation.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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