Public interest litigation is the use of the law to advance human rights and equality, or raise issues of broad public concern.  It helps advance the cause of minority or disadvantaged groups or individuals. Public interest cases may arise from both public and private law matters.  Public law concerns the various rules and regulations that govern the exercise of power by public bodies.  Private law concerns those cases in which a public body is not involved, and can be found in areas such as employment law or family law.  Public interest litigation is most commonly used to challenge the decisions of public authorities by judicial review.  Judicial review is a form of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action, or a failure to act, by a public body. Judicial review is concerned with whether the law has been correctly applied, and the right procedures have been followed.  

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been an invaluable innovative judicial remedy. It has translated the rhetoric of fundamental rights into living reality for at least some segments of our exploited and downtrodden humanity. Under trial prisoners languishing in jails for inordinately long periods, inmates of asylums and care-homes living in sub-human conditions, children working in hazardous occupations and similar disadvantaged sections.

At the time of independence , court procedure was drawn from the Anglo-Saxon system of jurisprudence. The bulk of citizens were unaware of their legal rights and much less in a position to assert them. And as a result, there was hardly any link between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Indian Union and the laws made by the legislature on the one hand and the vast majority of illiterate citizens on the other. However, this scenario gradually changed when the post emergency Supreme Court tackled the problem of access to justice by people through radical changes and alterations made in the requirements of locus standi and of party aggrieved. Prior to 1980s, only the aggrieved party could personally knock the doors of justice and seek remedy for his grievance and any other person who was not personally affected could not knock the doors of justice as a proxy for the victim or the aggrieved party. Public Interest Litigation as it has developed in in recent years marks a significant departure from traditional judicial proceedings. The court is now seen as an institution not only reaching out to provide relief to citizens but even venturing into formulation policy which the state must follow. The splendid efforts of Justice P N Bhagwati and Justice V R Krishna Iyer were instrumental of this juristic revolution of eighties to convert the apex court of India into a Supreme Court for all Indians.

In M.N Mehta v union of India, the court explained how despite the enactment of Environment (protection) Act, 1986, there had been a considerable decline in the quality of environment. Any further delay in the performance of duty by the central government cannot, therefore, be permitted. The court, however, required the central government to indicate what steps it had taken thus far and also place before it the national policy for the protection of environment. The law and policy divide was obliterated in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan which was a PIL concerning sexual harassment of women at work place.

It cannot be denied that PIL activists should be responsible and accountable. It is also notable here that even the Consumers Protection Act, 1986 has been amended to provide compensation to opposite parties in cases of frivolous complaints made by consumers. PIL requires rethinking and restructuring. Overuse and abuse of PIL will make it ineffective. PIL has translated the rhetoric of fundamental rights into living reality for at least some segments of our exploited and downtrodden humanity.

Aishwarya Says:

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.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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