“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.
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:
What are some essentials of drafting a PIL?
Some of the essentials of drafting a PIL are listed as follows:
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.