Public Interest Litigation


Public Interest is the kind of interest that affects the legal rights and the liabilities of the general public. It may also include pecuniary interest. Hence, Public Interest Litigation of popularly known as PIL is a form of litigation that can be filed to safe guard or product public interest.

PIL has not been described in any Indian statute. However, Courts have interpreted and described PIL in the case of Janata Dal v. H.S. Chaudhary, where the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held that lexically, the expression ‘PIL’ means a legal motion started in a court of regulation for the enforcement of public/well-known interest in which legal rights or liabilities or some interests (such as pecuniary interest) of the general public or a selected part of population are affected.

PILs are taken into consideration to be the simplest in addition to the most typically used judicial tool to guard the surroundings. It has a wide range of benefits including fast results, nominal court fees, comfortable procedural rules, different investigative techniques available to courts like special committees.

Who can file a PIL? 

Any individual or a company can record a PIL both in his/her/their very own status i.e., to defend or put in force a proper owed to him/her/them by the authorities or on behalf of a section of society who’s deprived or oppressed and isn’t always capable of putting in force their very own rights. However, only a person appearing in correct faith and who has enough interest in the proceeding can have the locus standi to record a PIL. An individual who methods the Hon’ble Court for personal gain, private profit, political or any indirect attention will not be entertained. Suo moto cognizance can also be taken by the Court.

Where can a PIL be filed? 

PILs are an extension of Writ Jurisdiction as PILs may be filed both before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India under Article 32 or any High Court of the India under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. 

Laws governing PIL in India 

Over the years, the courts in India have formulated diverse concepts with appreciate to PILs:

  • Relaxed rule of locus standi- PILs must be filed by any individual for the welfare of others who’re deprived and are thus not able to approach the courts themselves.
  • Letter-petitions- A letter that falls under positive categories alone will usually be dealt with as PILs consisting of petitions relating to environmental pollution, disturbance of ecological balance, drugs, food adulteration, etc.
  • Relaxed procedural rules- Courts have dealt with even a letter or a telegram as a PIL as in the case of Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun vs. State of Uttar Pradesh. Even the regulation regarding pleadings has been comfortable by the courts in instances of PILs.
  • Intervention by the courts– Articles 14 & 21 of the Constitution of India and the International Conventions on Human Rights offer for a truthful and affordable trial. Thus, Courts have to interfere while injustice is achieved to many.
  • Question of maintainability-The Government might not be allowed to raise questions as to the maintainability of the PIL if the court is prima facie satisfied that there may be a version of any constitutional rights of a disadvantaged class of people.
  • Principle of Res Judicata- The principle of res judicata or any concepts analogous to it would depend upon the circumstances and information of the case and the nature of the PIL.
  • Appointment of a Commission- On special occasions, a court can also additionally appoint a Commission or different bodies to investigate. In the event that the Commission takes over a public institution, the Court can also add direct control of it.
  • PILs regarding constitutionality or validity of a statute or a statutory rule– Ordinarily, the High Court should not entertain this sort of petition with the aid of using the manner of a PIL.
  • Complete Justice– Under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has the discretionary strength to pass a decree or order as can be important to do the entire justice. However, while high courts can also additionally pass orders to do entire justice, they do not have powers comparable to the ones granted to the Hon’ble Supreme Court under Article 142.
  • Misuse of PILs– Courts are extraordinarily careful to make certain that PILs aren’t misused because the misuse of PILs could defeat the very cause for which it becomes conceived i.e., to return back to the rescue of the bad and the downtrodden. Ø Formulation of diverse concepts– In environmental regulation cases, the courts have formulated and evolved numerous standards consisting of the Polluter Pays Principle, the Precautionary Principle, the Public Trust Doctrine, and Sustainable Development.

What are some essentials of drafting a PIL? 

The following are a number of the vital steps that must be accompanied while drafting a PIL:

  • Collection of records and documents.
  • The Petitioner should determine wherein the PIL might be filled, whether before the Hon’ble Supreme Court or the High Court of that State.
  • On the event that the PIL is to be filed earlier than the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the letter/postcard need to be addressed to the Chief Justice of India while in the occasion that the PIL is to be filed before a High Court, the letter/postcard should be addressed to the Chief Justice of that precise High Court.
  • When drafting a PIL, one should examine the Public Litigation Guidelines relevant for the particular court before which one intends to file the PIL which are available on the website of the respective courts.
  • All the information required which includes the petitioner’s name, postal address, email address, telephone number, occupation, annual earnings and PAN number, evidence of identification of the Petitioner should be annexed, etc, should be surely stated.

What is the procedure for filing a PIL? 

  • If the PIL is filled under the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, 5 copies of the PIL to be filed whereas if the PIL is filled under the Hon’ble High Courts of India, 2 copies of the PIL to be filed.
  • If the PIL is filled under the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, service of copy upon Respondent(s) / Opposite Party or Parties should be served in advance. On the contrary, if the PIL is filled under the Hon’ble High Courts of India, service of copy upon Respondent(s) / Opposite Party or Parties to be served only when the Hon’ble Court issues notice regarding the same. 
  • Rs.50/- per Respondent / Opposite Party is the court Fee to be affixed on the Petition in the both the Hon’ble Apex court and High Courts.

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