Public Interest Litigation or PIL is filed for the interests of an individual or a group of people on certain matters. Let's discuss all about PILs and How they work!
The term ‘public interest litigation‘ is used to describe a legal action that may be brought by any person or group of persons. The public interest can be defined as the interests of the general public in particular matters. PIL stands for Public Interest Litigation. It is a legal process that can be initiated by any individual or group of individuals to seek justice from the court. The person filing such a case has to provide proof that his/her rights have been violated and there are no other ways to redress it.
What Is Public Interest Litigation?
Public interest litigation (PIL) is a legal process that allows individuals to challenge the actions of public authorities in India. The PIL route was introduced by the Supreme Court of India in 2005, and it has been used extensively ever since. It has helped increase transparency and accountability in many areas such as police investigation, land acquisition, environmental protection, etc. In most cases, however, these issues are not directly related to individual rights but rather to wider societal concerns.
Who Can File a PIL?
The PIL is a matter of public interest. It can be filed by any person, organisation, or institution. The right to file a PIL is conferred on the citizens as per Article 32 of the Constitution of India.
The petitioner must be an Indian citizen and the case should have been filed within six months from the date of occurrence. A PIL is not allowed to be filed by an individual who has less than one year’s experience as an advocate. The petition must be based on public interest and it should not have been previously dismissed by any court in India or abroad.
Grounds for filing PIL
PILs are filed to protect the rights of an individual or a group of people. Other grounds for filing a Public Interest Litigation are:
- Public Morality
- Public Health
- Violation of rights of the poor
- Violation of Religious rights
A citizen can file a PIL in case he/she feels that there has been a violation of his/her fundamental rights and liberties under Articles 14, 19, 21, and 25 of the Constitution. The court may also take cognizance if it feels that there has been an abuse of power by government officials or public servants in violation of their constitutional duties and rights.
Procedure for filing PIL
Filing a PIL in India is a legal process. The procedure for filing a PIL is described below:
- PIL can be filed either in the Supreme Court or in the High Court of the State.
- If the PIL is filed in the High Court, a copy of the petition is sent to the defendant and the proof along with two copies of the PIL is sent to the court.
- If the PIL is filed in the Supreme Court, five copies of the PIL are sent to court and the respondent is informed about it only when the Supreme Court issues a notice.
- The court will then decide whether or not to hear it. If it decides to hear it, then a copy of the PIL along with supporting documents are sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice (MoLJ).
- The MoLJ will take up the matter after they have received all relevant documents from both sides. After receiving all documents, they will give their opinion on whether or not they think that there should be a hearing on this issue at all.
Against whom Public Interest Litigation can be filed?
The PIL can be filed against the government, a public authority or an individual. The petitioner has to prove that there is a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution.
To prevent the misuse of PIL, the Supreme Court has issued some guidelines and there are certain conditions under which PILs cannot be filed. These are:
- Any matter related to pension
- The matters between Landlord and tenant.
- Service Issues
- Complaints against Central and State government bodies, except those mentioned in guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.
- For admission to educational institutions.
- PILs asking for early hearing of cases in courts (High Court or Subordinate courts)
Types of Public Interest Litigation
Two types of PILs can be filed in India:
Representative Social Action
In this type of PIL, the court allows a person to stand on behalf of others. This is usually seen when victims are from a poor and weaker community and cannot approach the court. The petitioner, in this case, represents someone else or a group of people.
Citizen Social Action
These PILs are to ask for the enforcement of rights. The court works to vindicate rights that are already present. This PIL has been filed involving matters of environmental concern.
Merits and Demerits public interest litigation
The main purpose of filing a PIL is to bring about positive changes in society and government policies.
Here are some benefits of filing a PIL:
- The litigants can get speedy justice. If you have an urgent need for justice, then you should consider filing your petition before the High Court itself rather than waiting for years to get justice
- The cost of a PIL is less and it provides an inexpensive remedy for issues.
- The litigants can file a PIL to attract attention to an issue concerning a large group of people.
Like any other thing, there are some demerits of PIL as well:
- Because of the low cost of filing a PIL, it is often misused by people for harassment.
- PIL is supposed to be used for public welfare but a lot of times it is filed to get attention and to solve personal grievances.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a case involving an individual, group, or government agency seeking redress for an alleged violation of human rights, environmental protection, and other public interests in India. It is also referred to as ‘people’s court’ or ‘people’s forum’. Public interest litigation rules are a set of guidelines to be followed by litigants in court cases. They are usually framed by the Supreme Court, and they help judges decide which cases should go on record and which ones can be dismissed. All the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court are strictly followed and respected. If you want to properly understand the requirements of the PIL filing process, you should consult and seek guidance from our expert team of legal professionals at Vakilsearch.
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