A Study On Public Interest Litigation In Full Concept
The meaning, origin, development and the scope of Public Interest Litigation and the locus standi for resorting to this jurisdiction of the Supreme court has been described by that court itself as follows;
“The question, “What ‘PIL’ means and is” has been deeply surveyed, explored and explained not only by various Judicial pronouncements in many countries, but also by eminent Judges, Jurists, activist Lawyers, outstanding scholars, Journalists and Social scientists, etc. Basically, the meaning of the word “Public Interest” is defined in Oxford English dictionary as “the common well-being also public welfare”
# To gain knowledge on PILs procedure
# To know on the categories involved in PIL
# To obtain knowledge on its pros and cons
# To know about the PILs nature in detail
Procedures To File A Pil In The Court
Any citizen of India can approach the court for public case (upon the interest of public) by filing a petition:
• Under Supreme Court Article 32 of the constitution
• Under High Court under Article 226 of the constitution
• Under Court of Magistrate under Section 133 CRPC
At present, a court can treat a letter as a writ petition and take action upon it. In such cases, the court has to be satisfied that the writ petition compiles the following;
1. Where the letter is addressed by the aggrieved person
2. A public-spirited individual
3. A social action group for the enforcement of legal or constitutional rights to any person who, upon poverty or disability, are not able to approach the court for redress.
Categories Involved In Filing A PIL
The guidelines provide that ordinarily letter/petitions falling under one of the following 10 categories will be entertained as PIL:
1. Bonded labor matters
2. Neglected children
3. Non-payment of minimum wages
4. Petitions from jails complaining of harassment, death in jail, speedy trial as a fundamental right, etc.
5. Petitions against police for refusing to register a case, harassment of bride, bride-burning, rape, murder, kidnapping, etc.
6. Petitions against atrocities on women, in particular harassment of bribe, bribe-burning, rape, murder, kidnapping, etc.
7. Petitions complaining harassment or torcher of persons belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribes
8. Petitions pertaining to environmental
Pros And Cons of The PIL
o citizens get an inexpensive remedy to solve the problem of crime as there is only a nominal rate of court fees
o courts can concentrate on larger public issues such as the issues of Human Rights, consumer welfare and environment
o PILs have made it easier for the judiciary to haul up the executive when it is not performing its duties properly
o If the petitioner is socially or economically weak and cannot provide necessary evidence to support his case, the court orders appointed commissions to look into and collect information about the case.
o Many people started handling PIL as tool for harassment because frivolous cases can be filed without heavy court fee as compared to private litigations
o Due to the flexibility of character of the PIL, the opposite party gets an opportunity to ascertain the precise allegation and respond to specific issues.
o The judiciary has been criticized due to the overstepping of its jurisdiction and that it is unable to implement its order effectively
o PIL as being misused in many ways, by the public agitating for private grievances in the grab of public interest by seeking publicity rather than supporting the public cause.
Justice Krishna Iyer in the case of Fertilizer corporation Kamagar union Vs Union of India has enumerated the following principles on Public Interest Litigation such as;
o The exercise of State power to eradicate corruption may result in unrelated interference’s of individuals right
o Social justice want’s liberal judicial review administrative action
o Restrictive rules of standing are an antithesis to an effective system of administration
o Activism is essential for participative public justice.
M.C. Mehta, a lawyer by profession, acted in such way that by looking to the number of PIL filed by him, it will be clear that many landmark judgements in various fields mainly environment was obtained by him. Some of them include;
1. Oleum gas leakage case
2. Child labor case
3. Gamma rays case
4. Delhi vehicular pollution case
5. Ganga pollution case and so on
There are many cases involved in Public Interest Litigation as one of the main causes for the case and its judgement. In the case of Sheela Barse Vs State of Maharashtra, the case dealt with a historical judgement on the issue of custodial violence against women. The Court held that there must be separate police lockups for women convicts to protect them from further trauma and brutality. In the case of M.C. Mehta Vs Union of India, it leads to the landmark judgment which lashed out at the civic authorities allowing untreated sewage from Kanpur tanneries making its way into the Ganges. In the case of Paramanand Katara Vs Union of India, Supreme Court held that in the field of Public Interest Litigation, which was filled by a human rights activist for general public interest that it is a paramount obligation of every member of medical profession to give medical aid to injured person as soon as possible without waiting for any procedural formalities.
Nature of Public Interest Litigation
Principles And Basis 0f Jurisdiction
The introduction of social action litigation popularly known as Public Interest Litigation (or) PIL supreme court shows its Judicial Activism the court has entertained the complaints made through letters address to it by public spirited citizens of the violation of the rights of disadvantages, dispossessed and deprived persons (or) group of persons who because of their future (or) socially (or) economically disadvantaged position unable to approach the court for itself the trade rule of locus standi has been relaxed.
In PIL, the strict rule of locus standi approved to private litigation is relaxed and a broad rule is evolved which gives the right of locus standi to any member of the public acting bonfire and having sufficient interest in instituting an action for reducing of public wrong (or) public injury but who is not a meddlesome busy body (or) meddlesome interloper, since the domestic object of PIL is to ensure observance of the provision of the constitution (or) the law which can be best achievement to advance the cause of community (or) disadvantage of groups and individuals (or) Public interest by permitting any person, having no personal gain (or) private motivation (or) any other oblique consideration but acting bonfireand having sufficient interest in maintaining an action or judicial redress for public injury to put the judicial machinery in motion like Actio popularis of Roman law whereby any citizen could bring such an action in respect of a public delict.
Nature of PIL Jurisdiction
The PIL jurisdiction forged by supreme court is an extension of its jurisdiction under Article 32 of the constitution. PIL is not in the nature of adversary litigation, but it is a challenge and an opportunity to the government and its officers to take basic human rights meaningful to the deprived and vulnerable sections of the community and to assure them socio and economic Justice which is the signature tune of our constitution.
Grievance And Relief
In PIL the court has power to take affirmative action by issuing specific directions in cases of governmental inaction (or) lethargy to perform its functions under law further, the court has power to award cost to the petitioner who brought an important matter before the court for compensation to persons who have suffered on and of the violation of their constitutional (or) legal rights.
Relaxation of Locus Standi
The important innovation in the matter of PIL is relaxation regarding locus standi. Though no hard and fast rules have been laid down in this regard, in S.P.Gupta and others Vs U.O.I and others, popularly known as Judges transfer case the supreme court elaborately stated the rule in this regard.
However, the court observed that it would have to be decided from case to case as to whether person approaching the court for relief has sufficient interest and has not acted with malafide (or) political motion.
Protection of Weaker Sections of Society
Public (or) social interest litigations is innovative strategy which has been evolved by the supreme court for the purpose of providing easy access to justification to the weaker sections of Indian humanity and it is powerful tool in the hands of public spirited individual and social action groups for combating exploitation and injustice and securing for the under privileged segments of society their social and economic entitlement.
In M.C. Mehtha Vs state of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme court issued directions for the welfare and protection of children employed in match factories. In numerous cases, the supreme court has passed orders and issued directions for the welfare and protection of labor.
In people’s union for Democratic Rights Vs union of India (U.O.I). The supreme court in this case passed an order for Payment for minimum wages to the labor.
Protection of Environment
In M.C.Mehtha Vs Union of India (U.O.I) in this case the supreme court ordered for closure of tanneries near Kanpur which were polluting river Ganges and creating Industrial pollution affecting lifetime of world wonder Taj mahal
Securing Human Rights And Human Dignity
In Bandhu Mukthi morcha Vs Union of India, the supreme court said Article 21 assures the Right to Live with Human dignity, includes free from exploitation.
Matters of Public Importance
In matters of great public importance the supreme court has passed appropriate orders under its PIL jurisdiction;
• To check arbitrary and malafide use of executive discretion
• Widening area of Public Interest Litigation
• Grand of variety of reliefs
Care And Caution Needed
In recent years there has been tremendous development and dynamic progress of COSMOS of PIL. However, great care and caution is needed on the part of court in entertaining PIL. It has been pointed out by the supreme court that – “Public Interest Litigation is a weapon which can be used with great care and circumspection and the Judiciary has to be extremely careful to see behind the beautiful veil of public interest an ugly private malice, vested interest and seeking is not lurking.
Judiciary may step in where it finds the actions on the part of Legislature (or) the executive is illegal (or) unconstitutional but the same by itself would not mean that public interest litigation would be converted into an adversarial litigation.
Review of Literature
Desai and Muralidhar – PIL is being misused by people agitating for private grievances in the grab of public interest and seeking publicity rather than espousing public causes
Jain – PIL is a weapon which must be used with great care and circumspection; the courts need to keep in view that under the guise of redressing a public grievance PIL does not encroach upon the sphere reserved by the Constitution to the executive and the legislature.
Public Interest Litigants, all over the country, has not taken very kind towards various court decisions. It is a welcome move from the part of the judiciary that no one in the country even PIL activists must be responsible and accountable. Now a day, PIL are increasing in number as there are a number of incidents which curtails or hurts the feeling of people as well as their rights as the citizens of the country. For instance, mass petitions were filed in many rape cases as well as murder cases in our country due to the lack of interest from the part of investigating agencies and even from the part of Government. The Supreme court has also set up legal aid in favour of the millions of people in India, and it also plays an inevitable role in the field of PIL in expanding its scope so that it turns to be a counter balance to the lethargy as well as inefficiency of the executive. Hence, the machinery governing Public Interest Litigation is undergoing a serious reconstruction or rethinking for possible developments in this field so that the people deserved will be awarded justice as well as the people who abuses it will be punished accordingly.