Litigating for Protection of Rights under Article 32, Article 226

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“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”

John F. Kennedy


Protection of fundamental rights of an individual is of greater concern for safeguarding the interest of public. There are various things happening within the society leading to unacceptable situations in relation to the violation of social injustice, corruption and human rights. These situations arise due to the lack of government policies as well as decisions made by them because of which social conscious citizens try to fix them with the help of Public Interest Litigation. A PIL case either won or lost in the Supreme Court or High Court often impacts the life of individuals connected with the case in one or another way. This type of case is mainly filed to protect, enforce or safeguard public interest. 

What is a Public Interest Litigation?

Public Interest Litigation is a legal petition that a non government organization, group of citizens or individuals can file against the injustice done to larger public. It is an expression made with the help of law so as to initiate social change in strategic manner. This expression has been borrowed from American jurisprudence in which it act as a legal representative to poor, unorganized consumers, people concerned about environmental issues, racial minorities and others. 

More precisely, it is a litigation filed by an individual in a court of law for protecting public interests including construction hazards, pollution, terrorism, road safety, sustainable environment and others. According to the Supreme Court of India, Petition involving personal/ individual matter shall not be entertained as a PIL. There are different cases where PIL is files by the petitioner including, Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan, M.C. Mehta vs Union of India and Parmanand Katra vs Union of India.

Who can file a PIL?

PIL (Public Interest Litigation) can be filed by any Indian citizen with a motive to redress public wrong, provided that it should be filed keeping in mind the larger public interest and should not be filed with personal or private interest. This means that any person either a pubic- spirited one or the one whose fundamental rights are affected can file this litigation. 

Earlier, the person who is directly affected, files such a litigation to seek justice for himself as well as others who are affected with the same. Today, anyone who cares for the human rights of himself as well as others can file this petition. For instance, a person living in Madhya Pradesh can file a PIL for some poor and illiterate labourers in Uttar Pradesh, who are working day and night but are not treated well by their managers. In short, Locus Standi to file a Public Interest Litigation is given to an individual having sufficient interest and good faith to help poor, disabled, illiterate and deprived people who are not able to reach the court for justice by themselves. 

Below are some of the groups highlighted who are eligible to file Public Interest Litigation.

  • One directly affected by the particular matter.
  • One should have legal right as well as ability to file a lawsuit for proceeding with PIL.
  • Any Indian citizen can file a case of PIL in Supreme Court, High Court and Magistrate’s Court under Article 32, Article 226 and Section 133 of CRPC respectively.

Moreover, under certain circumstances, the Court may also take on the public concerned matter and further an advocate is assigned for the same to handle the matter.

Where can aggrieved file a Public Interest Litigation?

A PIL can be filed before the High Court under Article 226 and before the Supreme Court under Article 32, according to the Constitution of India.

Laws governing PIL in India

Several principles have been formulated, over the years, by the court of India in context to PIL which are presented below in form of bullet list:

  • Rule of Locus Standi: PIL works under this rule which means anyone deprived, illiterate or poor are able to safeguard their interests by approaching the court themselves and filing a PIL. 
  • Procedural Rules: Letters and postcards are addressed in the form of PIL by the court whereas procedural rules have been seen relaxed in case of rural litigation and entitlement of Kendra Dehradun vs the State of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Intervention by the courts: Courts highlighted the fact that International Conventions on Human Rights and Article 14 and 21 of Indian Constitution provides reasonable as well as fair trials. This means courts can intervene when any injustice is done to a group or an individual.
  • Complete Justice: The Supreme Court has power to pass an order to do complete justice, under Article 142 of Constitution of India.
  • PIL misuse: Courts either the Supreme court or High Court are cautious towards the fact that PIL could not be misused and should safeguard the interest of public.

What are some essentials of drafting a PIL?

Some of the essentials of drafting a PIL are listed as follows:

  1. Collection of all the relevant information and documents about the case including photographs.
  2. Selection of court to file the petition, High Court of State or Hon’ble Supreme Court.
  3. Forming of the PIL which can be in the form of petition, postcard or letter. Public Litigation guidelines should be followed clearly while drafting a PIL.
  4. Clear details regarding Petitioner’s name, email address, phone number, annual income, postal address, PAN number and occupation. Information about case facts, nature of inquiry and personal interest if any.
  5. Another essential of drafting a PIL is appearance in the court for which it has been recommended to either to choose to appear in person or appoint an advocate.


What is the procedure for filing a PIL?

In order to file a PIL, brief research is required to be performed before filing for which all the affected interest groups are consulted by the petitioner. After this, relevant information is collected regarding the case. A case is filed in the High Court which further directs the judge/ defendant/ policeman to present a detailed reply. 

On the basis of this reply, application for continuance of order of summons is filed by the petitioner whereas after granting the continuance of summon, a petitioner is required to appear in the High court. It has been suggested that a petitioner should be well prepared to present the issue and convince the court in given time including certain facts and figures. Moreover, a petitioner should be able to explain the High Court judges that why this case is of public interest. 

In the Supreme Court, 5 copies of the PIL to be filed is required to be submitted whereas 2 copies of the same are required to be submitted in the High Court.


PIL results as an important and trustworthy petition for those who are unable to approach the court and safeguard their fundamental rights. Any individual can file a PIL to contribute towards the reduction of pollution, construction hazards and others affecting a large mass. The Courts are taking various steps to make the concept of filing a PIL easy as well as they remain cautions towards its misuse for an individual’s personal profit.


1. Under which Articles PIL can be filed ?
2. On what grounds the PIL can be rejected?