Public interest Litigation (PIL), as the call indicates, means litigation achieved within the larger interest and welfare of the public. The object of the concept of public interest litigation is to offer a truthful listening to those poor and destitute who have insufficient approach to get represented in a court of law for adjudication and enforcement of their primary constitutional rights. It’s because of Public Interest Litigation that the apex court has been able to put into effect the rights of thousands and thousands of individuals who were aggrieved of acts violating their rights. Landmark judgments had been stated that have brought about milestones in judicial activism in various fields of law and justice, all because of the effectiveness of PILs.
Concept of PIL and the liberal rule of Locus Standi
The Supreme Court has widened the scope of PIL by using liberalizing rule of standing via treating letter petitions sent by any person or affiliation complaining violation of any essential rights and also writ petitions filed under Article 32 via public-lively and policy-orientated activist persons or of any organisation rejecting severe challenges made with reference to the maintainability of such petitions. Letter petitions and epistolary jurisdiction act as pillars for the rule of Locus Standi.
In 1981, Justice P.N. Bhagvati articulated the concept of PIL as follows:
“wherein a legal incorrect or a legal damage is triggered to someone or to a determinate magnificence of people by way of cause of violation of any constitutional or legal proper or any burden is imposed in contravention of any constitutional provision or without authority of law or this kind of legal wrong or legal damage or unlawful burden is threatened and such character or determinate elegance of persons with the aid of reasons of poverty, helplessness or disability or socially or economically deprived function not able to method the court for relief, any member of public can keep an application for an appropriate path, order or writ inside the high court under Article 226 and in case any breach of fundamental rights of such individuals or determinate class of individuals, in this court below Article 32 looking for judicial redress for the criminal wrong or legal harm precipitated to such man or woman or determinate elegance of humans.”
In the words of the Supreme Court, in People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India (AIR 1982 S.C. 1473)
“We wish to point out with all the emphasis at our command that public interest litigation…is a totally different kind of litigation from the ordinary traditional litigation which is essentially of an adversary character where there is a dispute between two litigating parties, one making claim or seeking relief against the other and that other opposing such claim or resisting such relief”.
In Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India (AIR 1984 SC 803), the case of violation of human rights and violation of the right to life and personal liberty in which there were many people engaged in Bonded exertions, it was customary that those people have been incapable of coming forward to defend their rights. A public spirited NGO by the name of “Bandhua Mukti Morcha’ which took up the case and filed a Public Interst Litigation inside the preferrred court of India.
Steps necessary in appropriate disposal of PILs
The apex court itself has framed certain pointers for disposal of PILs. The Court ought to be cautious in ensuring that the petitioner who is filing the PIL is acting in a bona fide manner and not for private gain, non-public income or political or different indirect concerns.
It is pertinent to be stated that after a PIL has been filed, it can’t be withdrawn. The courts may also take suo motu recognition of matters concerning public interest. Suo motu is the power of the court to initiate lawsuits against a party by its very own movement. but, the procedure to file a PIL is much like that of a writ petition
A Court fee of Rs. 50, per respondent (i.e. for each number of opposite party, court fees of RS. 50) has to be affixed on the petition.
At present, the Court can treat a letter as a writ petition and take movement upon it. But, it isn’t always each letter which may be handled as a writ petition by way of the court. The court would be justified in treating the letter as a writ petition only in the following cases-
(i) It is accepted when the letter is addressed through an aggrieved character or
(ii) A public spirited person or
(iii) A social action group for enforcement of the constitutional or the legal rights of a person in custody or of a class or group of individuals who by using motive of poverty, incapacity or socially or economically deprived position locate it difficult to approach the court for redress.
Judicial Activism towards attaining Social Justice
Social justice is an issue which needs to be kept in mind by using all the 3 organs of the constitution and so as to make sure the same, the judiciary advanced the concept of Public interest Litigation. It became the attempt and creativity of the judges of the Supreme Court which brought about the improvement of this effective tool within the hands of the society. Access to Justice is an intrinsic problem facing a majority of people.
In the case of Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar (AIR 1979 SC 1369), the Supreme Court held that speedy trial is an essential and integral part of the fundamental rights to life and liberty enshrined in Art. 21. In Bihar a number of undertrial prisoners were kept in various jails for several years. The Court ordered that all such prisoners whose names were submitted to the court should be released forthwith. Since speedy trial was held to be a fundamental right, the apex court considered its constitutional duty to enforce this right of the accused person.
In the case of Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 SC 3014), Vishakha and different women agencies filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in opposition to state of Rajasthan and Union of India to put in force essential rights for working ladies below Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution. This resulted into the introduction of Vishaka guidelines. The judgment of August 1997 additionally supplied simple definitions of sexual harassment on the place of work and furnished tips to deal with it.
Abuse of PIL not to be allowed
The new trend of locus standi might be able to minimize, if not absolutely prevent, the abuse of power with the aid of public government.
In the case of Bihar Legal Support Society v. Chief Justice of India [(1986) 4 SCC 767], The court made it clear that the approach of PIL has been advanced through the apex court in order to bring justice in the easy reach of the needy and the deprived sections of the community.
In the case of M.C. Mehta v. Union of India [(1988) 1 SCC 471], This judgement lashed out at civic authorities for permitting untreated sewage from Kanpur’s tanneries making its way into the Ganges.
In Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action v. Unoin of India [(1996) 3 SCC 212], the Supreme Court has held that if by the action of private corporate bodies a person’s fundamental right is violated the Court would not accept the argument that it is not ‘state’ within the meaning of Art.12 and, therefore, action cannot be taken against it.
Public Interest litigation (PIL) has an important position within the civil justice system in that it could obtain the goals that can hardly ever be accomplished through traditional private litigation. PIL, as an instance, offers a ladder to justice to deprived sections of society, gives a path to put into effect diffused or collective rights, and permits civil society to no longer suffer violations of human rights but also allows them to participate in government selection making. PIL could also contribute to proper governance via preserving the authorities responsible.