The following blog seeks to provide an understanding of the concept of public interest litigation. It’s an emergency and needs in the Indian Legal System.
What is Public interest Litigation?
Society and its affairs are complicated, there exists a list of practices that are based on dogmas, superstitions, and prejudices. The courts have the unrestricted power to act as a leveler, when practices or acts, in general, are questionable and deny people their fundamental rights. The understanding of this led to the emergency of the concept of Public Interest Litigation. The proper legal definition of a PIL is not available but courts have often defined a PIL as a legal action started in a court of law for the enforcement of public/general interest where the public or a particular class of the public some interest (including pecuniary interest) that affects their legal rights or liabilities.
Due to their many benefits, such as quick results, low court costs, lax procedural rules, and the wide range of investigative techniques available to courts like special committees, PILs are thought to be the most efficient as well as the most frequently used judicial tool to protect the environment.
Who can file a PIL?
Any person or organization may submit a PIL on their own behalf, that is, to defend or uphold a right that the government owes them, or on behalf of a group within society that is oppressed or disadvantaged and is unable to uphold their own rights. To allow the Hon’ble Court to consider grievances filed on behalf of those who are poor, illiterate, disadvantaged, or disabled and are unable to access the courts themselves, the idea of “Locus Standi” has been eased in the context of PILs.To file a PIL, however, you must be acting in good faith and have a legitimate stake in the outcome of the case. It is forbidden to use the court system for political, partisan, or any other indirect purposes. The Court may also exercise suo moto cognizance.
Where can a PIL be filed?
PILs are Writ Jurisdiction extensions. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India may receive PILs pursuant to Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, or any High Court pursuant to Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. To the Chief Justice of India or the Chief Justice of a High Court, however, even a straightforward letter or postcard may be sufficient. As in the case of Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun vs. State of Uttar Pradesh [(AIR 1989 SC 594) (see here)], where the Hon’ble Court converted a letter raising the issue of unauthorized and illegal mining in Mussoorie Hills into a writ petition under Public Interest, the court may then decide to take cognizance of the letter and convert it into a PIL.
Essentials while drafting a PIL
- Collection of Information– The first step of drafting a PIL would be to collect all relevant information pertaining to the issue.
- Collation of documents– All documents regarding the case including photographs if any, must be collated.
- The court in which it is to be filed– The Petitioner must decide in which he/she/it wants to file the PIL, whether before the Hon’ble Supreme Court or the High Court of that State.
- Form of the PIL– A PIL can be in the form of a Petition or even a letter or postcard. In the event that the PIL is to be filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the letter/postcard must be addressed to the Chief Justice of India. In the event that the PIL is to be filed before a High Court, the letter/postcard must be addressed to the Chief Justice of that particular High Court.
- Public Litigation Guidelines– When drafting a PIL, one must look at the Public Litigation Guidelines applicable for the particular court before which one intends to file the PIL. The same are usually available on the websites of the respective courts.
- Details to be clearly Stated: Petitioner’s name, postal address, email address, phone number, occupation, annual income, and PAN number.
- Appearance in court- The Petitioner may either appoint an advocate or choose to appear in person.
Public Interest Litigation has revolutionized the Indian Legal System. A PIL is a crucial legal weapon, particularly for the defense of the rights of individuals unable to personally approach the courts. They are one of the types of litigation that is most frequently utilized, particularly in environmental disputes. In an effort to prevent people from filing PILs in the public interest or on behalf of the underprivileged, disabled, or poor, the courts have made an effort to simplify the rules governing PILs. However, there have been a number of instances where individuals have attempted to use PILs to advance their own personal objectives. Therefore, in order to prevent the abuse of PILs, courts must continue to exercise utmost caution.
If still doubts persist, consult legal experts at