• Public Interest Litigation

  • Public-Interest Litigation

     Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere: Martin Luther King Jr.

    Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a litigation for the protection of the public interest. In Indian law, Article 32 of the Indian constitution contains a tool which directly connects the public with judiciary. The concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is in consonance with the principles enshrined in Article 39A of the Constitution of India to protect and deliver prompt social justice with the help of law.  A PIL may be introduced in a court of law by the court itself suo moto, rather than the aggrieved party or another third party. For the exercise of the court's jurisdiction, it is not necessary for the victim of the violation of his or her rights to personally approach the court. In a PIL, the right to file suit is given to a member of the public by the courts through judicial activism. The member of the public may be a non-governmental organization (NGO), an institution or an individual. The Supreme Court of India, rejecting the criticism of judicial activism, has stated that the judiciary has stepped in to give direction because due to executive inaction, the laws enacted by Parliament and the state legislatures for the poor since independence have not been properly implemented. PIL has been successful in making official authorities accountable to NGOs.

    A bench consisting of Justices G. S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly pointed out that laws enacted for achieving the goals set out in the Preamble to the Constitution were inadequate; the benefits of welfare measures embodied in the legislation had not reached millions of poor people, and efforts to bridge the gap between rich and poor did not yield the desired results.

    Writing the judgment in a case concerning sewage workers, Justice Singhvi stated: “The most unfortunate part of the scenario is that whenever one of the three constituents of the state i.e., the judiciary issues directions for ensuring that the right to equality, life, and liberty no longer remains illusory for those who suffer from the handicaps of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance, and directions are given for implementation of the laws enacted by the legislature for the benefit of the have-nots, a theoretical debate is started by raising the bogey of judicial activism or overreach.”

    The bench clarified that it was necessary to erase the impression on some that the superior courts, by entertaining PIL Petitions for the poor (who could not seek protection of their rights), exceeded the unwritten boundaries of their jurisdiction. The judges said it was the duty of the judiciary (like that of the legislative and executive constituents of the state) to protect the rights of every citizen and ensure that all lived with dignity.

    Such cases may be filed in the public interest when victims lack the capability to commence litigation, or their freedom to petition the court has been encroached. The court may proceed suo motu, or cases can proceed on the petition of an individual or group. Courts may also proceed on the basis of letters written to them, or newspaper reports.

    A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) can be filed in any High Court or directly in the Supreme Court. It is not necessary that the petitioner has suffered some injury of his own or has had personal grievance to litigate. PIL is a right given to the socially conscious member or a public spirited NGO to espouse a public cause by seeking judicial for redressal of public injury. Such injury may arise from breach of public duty or due to a violation of some provision of the Constitution. Public interest litigation is the device by which public participation in judicial review of administrative action is assured. It has the effect of making judicial process little more democratic.

    As per the guidelines issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, No petition involving individual/ personal matter shall be entertained as a PIL matter except as indicated hereinafter.

    1. Bonded Labour matters.
    2. Neglected Children.
    3. Non-payment of minimum wages to workers and exploitation of casual workers and complaints of violation of Labour Laws (except in individual cases).
    4. Petitions from jails complaining of harassment, for (pre-mature release) and seeking release after having completed 14 years in jail, death in jail, transfer, release on personal bond, speedy trial as a fundamental right.
    5. Petitions against police for refusing to register a case, harassment by police and death in police custody.
    6. Petitions against atrocities on women, in particular harassment of bride, bride burning, rape, murder, kidnapping etc.
    7. Petitions complaining of harassment or torture of villagers by co- villagers or by police from persons belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and economically backward classes.
    8. Petitions pertaining to environmental pollution, disturbance of ecological balance, drugs, food adulteration, maintenance of heritage and culture, antiques, forest and wild life and other matters of public importance.
    9. Petitions from riot -victims.
    10. Family Pension.

    To know more, go on clicking on the following links

    Most Pressing Social Issues Requiring Very Urgent Attention

    • Air Pollution-  Caused By Industry & Other Sources
    • Academic Institutions
    • Acid Attack Victim’s Cause
    • Children Welfare Issues- Under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009
    • Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI)
    • Delhi Police
    • Directorate Of Revenue Intelligence (DRI)
    • Delhi Development Authority (DDA)
    • Delhi Jal Board (DJB)
    • Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC)
    • Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB)
    • Detaining Authorities
    • Drug Pricing & Medicines
    • Encroachments/Land Grabbing
    • Ecology
    • Environmental Matters- Under Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, Indian Forest Act, 1927, National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997, National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995,  Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972Human Right Issues- Under Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993
    • Forests
    • Haritage Matters
    • Insurance Matters- Under Insurance Act, 1938- Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999- Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956
    • Media & Press Matters- Under Press Council Act, 1965
    • Medicine & Pharmacy- Under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940- Pharmacy Act, 1948
    • Professional’s Matters- Under Advocates act, 1961- Advocates' Welfare Fund Act, 2001- Architects Act, 1972- Chartered Accountants Act, 1949- Company Secretaries Act, 1980
    • Right To Information (RTI) Matters - Under Right To Information Act, 2005
    • Societies & Trust Matters - Under Indian Trusts Act, 1882- Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984- Societies Registration Act, 1860  
    • Jail Authorities
    • Labour Exploitation
    • Maintenance Of Essential Services
    • NCT- Government Of NCT Of Delhi
    • Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)
    • Noise Pollution- Caused By Industry & Other Sources
    • Public Causes & Issues
    • Public Safety
    • Remand Homes/ Child Homes All Over India
    • Service Law
    • SC/ST/BC/OBC- Matters in regard to their exploitation
    • Under-trials & Convicts lodged in jail
    • Virus Of Acts- Writs Petitions Challenging Virus Of Acts, Statutory Rules, & By-Laws, Etc.
    • Water Pollution
    • Women & Children  

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