PIL – A double edged sword

Public interest litigation (PIL) is a snowball concept that was introduced in India by Justice P.N Bhagwati. Essentially, PIL is a litigation that can be filed by anyone from the society for the purpose of securing justice for those who aren’t able to the same for themselves. The concept leaps the rule of Locus Standi and allow people to file petitions for a cause even if they are not directly affected by it. It was familiarized in India taking into consideration the helplessness of some disadvantaged section of society. Many women, children, economically weaker sections of society are either ill-educated to secure justice for themselves or afraid to get involved into the procedure.

To provide a legal aid to them and for being a guiding force for them, this opportunity of PIL was framed fabricated. The first reported case of PIL in 1979 focused on the inhuman conditions of prisons and undertrial prisoners. In Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar,3 the PIL was filed by an advocate on the basis of a news report highlighting the plight of thousands of undertrial prisoners languishing in various jails in Bihar. This litigation exposed the failure of criminal justice system and led to a chain of proceedings resulting in the release of over 40,000 undertrial prisoners. Right to speedy justice emerged as a basic fundamental right which had been denied to these prisoners. This litigation also generated public debate on prison reform.

Any person who come across a wrong towards such disadvantaged people can file a public interest litigation to secure justice for them in High court of India under article 226. The helping hand need not to be a person of legal field and this is one of the superlative feature of this concept. But this role demands great responsibility as he/she needs to satisfy the court that petition filed is purely for public interest and is not frivolous. The existence of PIL democratises the access of justice to all. It is a hefty instrument for the upliftment of those who lives in the darker nooks and corners of our society. As the provisions of it are nowhere mentioned in the constitution as it was wholly an initiative of Indian Judiciary shows us how Indian Judiciary can play a fantabulous role in moulding a required success path for our nation. But, as everything has two sides, gradually with time the concept of PIL also developed one. And as we flip to other side, we can see how PIL as a concept has evolved to be a double-edged sword.

Many a times, PIL gives rise to problem of competing rights where interest one section of society overlaps the interest of other and the concept of justice to all fails to prevail. For instance, when a court orders the closure of a polluting industry, the interests of the workmen and their families who are deprived of their livelihood may not be taken into account by the court. And one of the biggest problem that is brewing over time is filings of frivolous PIL’s. As PIL’s have gained success and priority over time, many people have started filing them for fulfilling their personal, political or corporate gains. Such malice attempts are pouring in more burden into already burdened bales of courtrooms. Such PIL’s unable courts to look into the real matters of public concern and the cycle of injustice keeps revolving. Thus, all this gives rise to inordinate delays in the judgements and by then it becomes this late that judgements become only of academic value.

However, if we glance back at another side of this sword, which establishes our belief in our judicial system and ensures that it is working towards society as a whole by – fashioning new kinds of reliefs under the court’s writ jurisdiction. example, the court can award interim compensation to the victims governmental lawlessness. By judicial monitoring of State institutions such as jails, women’s protective homes, juvenile homes, mental asylums, and the like. Through judicial invigilation, the court seeks gradual improvement in their management administration. This has been characterised as creeping jurisdiction in which the court takes over the administration of these institutions for protecting human rights.

Since, the way judiciary bought up the concept of public interest litigation in India, it also need to correct the prevailing flaws by checking up the credibility of petitioners, checking the prima facie correctness, etc to put down the questions that are brewing on the Jurisprudence of our system.

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.

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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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