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How Important Is Public Interest Litigation Under Indian Law? How Important Is Public Interest Litigation Under Indian Law?

Bronze medal Reporter Names Posted 17 Sep 2020
How Important Is Public Interest Litigation Under Indian Law?

A Public Interest Litigation or PIL is a petition filed before the court for protecting the interests of public or concerning public issues at large. It can be filed by an individual in public-spirit or an NGO under Article 226 or Article 32 of the Constitution of India which means it can be filed before High Court or Supreme Court when remedy concerning any matter affecting the public at large is to be sought.

Article 32 of the Constitution of India speaks about:

 “32. Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part

  1. The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
  2. The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part
  3. Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clause (1) and (2), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause(2)
  4. The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.”


  1. It helps in enforcing human rights through the courts, thus giving the affected their dignity, bonded labour, from being exploited and so on.
  2. This helps the affected in accessing justice through an NGO or by an individual in public-spirit or through a letter sent to court.
  3. Temporary compensation as well as relief can be received by the oppressed or affected till the final decision is reached.

Important Case-Laws:

1. The  top Court in Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee And Anr v. C.K. Rajan and Ors noted :

SCOPE OF PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION: The Courts exercising their power of judicial review found to its dismay that the poorest of poor, deprived, the illiterate, the urban and rural unorganized labour sector, women, children, handicapped by ‘ignorance, indigence and illiteracy’ and other down trodden have either no access to justice or had been denied justice. A new branch of proceedings known as ‘Social Interest Litigation’ or ‘Public Interest Litigation’ was evolved with a view to render complete justice to the aforementioned classes of persons. It expanded its wings in course of time. The Courts in pro bono publico granted relief to the inmates of prisons, provided legal aid, directed speedy trial, maintenance of human dignity and covered several other areas. Representative actions, pro bono publico and test litigations were entertained in keeping with the current accent on justice to the common man and a necessary disincentive to those who wish to by pass the real issues on the merits by suspect reliance on peripheral procedural shortcomings.”

2. Justice P. Bhagwati in S.P.Gupta v. President of India and Ors remarked that :

It may therefore now be taken as well-established that where a legal wrong or a legal injury is caused to a person or to a determinate class of persons by reason of violation of any constitutional or legal right or any burden is imposed in contravention of any constitutional or legal provision or without authority of law or any such legal wrong or legal injury or illegal burden is threatened and such person or determinate class of persons is by reason of poverty, helplessness or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position, unable to approach the Court for relief, any member of the public can maintain an application for an appropriate direction, order or writ in the High Court under Article 226 and in case of breach of any fundamental right of such person or determinate class of persons, in this Court under Article 32 seeking judicial redress for the legal wrong or injury caused to such person or determinate class of persons “  

Thus, the Public Interest Litigation is filed for the benefit or at the larger interest of the public who are not able to approach the court or belong to the weakest section. For more details, please contact Lawyers in India.

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