Public Intetest Litigation in India

Public interest litigation is litigation for the protection of the public interest. In Indian law, Article 32 of the Indian constitution contains a tool which directly joins the public with judiciary. A PIL may be introduced in a court of law by the court itself (suo motu), rather than the aggrieved party or another third party. For the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction, it is not necessary for the victim of the violation of his or her rights to personally approach the court. In a PIL, the right to file suit is given to a member of the public through judicial activism. The member of the public may be a non-governmental organization (NGO), an institution or an individual.

Filing of PIL under act 32, or 226 of Constitution of India

The court must be satisfied that the Writ petition fulfils some basic needs for PIL as the letter is addressed by the aggrieved person, public spirited individual and a social action group for the enforcement of legal or Constitutional rights to any person who are not able to approach the court for redress. Any citizen can file a public case by filing a petition:

Under Art 32 of the Indian Constitution, in the Supreme court

Under Art 226 of the Indian Constitution, in the High court

Letter-petitions falling under the following categories are ordinarily entertained as Public Interest Litigation, for instance:-

1. Bonded Labour matters.

2. Neglected Children.

3. Non-payment of minimum wages to workers and exploitation of casual workers and complaints of violation of Labour Laws (except in individual cases).

4. Petitions from jails complaining of harassment, for (pre-mature release)and seeking release after having completed 14 years in jail, death in jail, transfer, release on personal bond, speedy trial as a fundamental right.

5 .Petitions against police for refusing to register a case, harassment by police and death in police custody.

6. Petitions against atrocities on women, in particular harassment of bride, brideburning, rape, murder, kidnapping etc.

Frivolous PIL's not permitted

"A litigant who approaches the court must come with clean hands. He cannot prevaricate and take inconsistent positions”.

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