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Who Is Eligible To File public interest litigation?

PIL is useful in filing a case of public interest and requires justice or a solution. Learn

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a legal mechanism available to citizens of India to supplement the resources of courts in order to promote a particular public interest. It is essentially a tool for those who cannot afford expensive legal representation and litigation. In India, suits are usually filed before high court judges. However, PILs can also be filed in other types of courts as well depending on the nature of the suit. The process of filing a suit through PIL is also straightforward and cheap. Anyone with standing can file such a suit, excepting only those who are debarred by law from doing so.

It is filed through a special petition in the High Court of the country. This petition gets admitted by the Court, and then the defendant or the government body/official is directed to file their response to the petition. It is important that the petitioner has certain basic requirements to be eligible to file a Public Interest Litigation. The petitioner should be a citizen of India and must be at least 18 years old to file any PIL. He/she should show that the case is of public interest and it should be for obtaining some kind of remedy/justice.

Apply for Public Interest Litigation

Who Can File The Public Interest Litigation?

An Indian citizen may file a PIL, provided that it is not filed in a private interest but rather in a larger public interest. In some circumstances, even the Court may take on a matter if it is one of significant public concern and assign an advocate to handle it.

Here are groups of people who are eligible to do so:

  • Anyone with interest in the matter.
  • Anyone who is directly affected by the matter.
  • Anyone who has the power to influence change in the matter.
  • The group must have the legal right and ability to file a lawsuit in order to proceed with a PIL.
  • Any citizen of India is eligible to file a case of PIL in the Supreme court. The case can be filed under Article 32 of the constitution. Under Article 226, one can file the case in High Court. And any citizen can file a case in the court of a magistrate under section 133 of CRPC. 

People who want to file PILs need to consider their motivations and research the issues thoroughly before beginning any legal action. They should also work closely with their attorney to ensure that their case is properly presented and represented.

Filing A PIL

A PIL is filed in a High Court of the country. A petitioner will have to apply for a summons in the High Court and then will have to file a petition. The High Court will then summon the defendant and will hear the petitioner’s arguments. Once the High Court decides that the lawsuit is of public interest, it will then direct the petitioner to file a detailed affidavit. The petitioner will have to explain the facts of the case in detail and also place reasons as to why the case is of public interest.

The next step will be to file an “affidavit of petitioners’ counsel”, which will be filed along with the petition. The affidavit of petitioners’ counsel is a brief statement by the petitioner’s legal counsel on behalf of the petitioner. It will be brief and explains the facts, the legal basis of the case and also the reliefs/remedies sought by the petitioner.

Basic Requirements For Filing PIL In India

The petitioner who files a PILitigation should fulfill certain basic requirements mentioned below before applying for any PIL in the High Court. They include:-

  • The petitioner should be a Citizen of India and should be at least 18 years old to file any PIL.
  • If a PIL is filed on behalf of a group of individuals, the petitioner should be a member of that group.
  • The petitioner must show that the case is of public interest and it should be for obtaining some kind of remedy/justice.
  • The petitioner should prove that the damages they will get if the PIL is granted are more than the filing fee they have paid and the other costs they will have to bear if they lose the case.
  • The document filed in the High Court must be in the original and not a copy, and copies have no legal value.

    Procedure Of Filing Pending PIL

A person must file PIL in the High Court, and the High Court will then direct the defendant/judge/municipal corporation/policeman in the case to file a detailed reply. Once the reply is filed, the petitioner will file an “application for continuance of order of summons”. The application will request the High Court to consider their petition and continue the order of summoning the defendant.

Once the High Court considers the application and grants continuance of summons, the petitioner will be required to appear in person in the High Court to file a detailed affidavit along with a cross-affidavit. The petitioner will have to explain the facts of the case in detail and also place reasons as to why the case is of public interest. After filing the affidavit, the petitioner will have to attend a few more hearings to depose before the High Court judges.


PILs are an important judicial tool in protecting the rights of those who are unable to go to court themselves. They are frequently utilized in environmental cases, one of the most common types of litigation. In order to avoid discouraging the filing of PILs on behalf of the poor, disabled or deprived, courts have implemented PILs. Accordingly, there are a number of cases where PILs are employed for personal gains rather than public benefit. Courts must continue to be careful to prevent PILs from being misused.

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