There are various decisions given by the courts across the country and as well decisions taken up by the government of India. So the concept of public interest litigation comes into picture. The decisions do affect at least some strata of the society. So the socially active citizens of the country for the rights of certain class of people together take the cases and file on their behalf.
Definition of Public Interest litigation
Public interest litigation is a legal action seeking for the benefits of disadvantaged groups, or fighting for the rights of minority or raising issues of public concern. It is done to bring a social change in the society. It is not defined in any statute, but largely done for overall people to get access to law and get justice.
Any Indian citizen can file a PIL in India. But it should be for the benefit of larger societal interest and not private interest. When the court verifies it to be a public concern, it may appoint a lawyer to deal with the case. PIL’s are filed in either High Court or the Supreme Court. But before taking a decision, one should not just go and file PIL if, they are dissatisfied with any government decision, instead first check with concerned authorities and only then take a step forward and file PIL. The average acceptance of PIL in the court is about 30- 60%.
Procedure for filing a PIL in India-
- Before filing a PIL one should do thorough research on the issue in concern. The petitioner should collect all the information from the affected group of people, like how is it affecting them, the steps already being taken, etc. and then bring up the decision to go to the court.
- For filing the PIL, there should be enough evidence, documents, and information, taken from the affected group. It is basically filing a case, only difference is there are large numbers of similar cases, which are combined together and filed in the court as a form of PIL. This is done for people who cannot themselves go and file a case, due to some reasons.
- Consult a lawyer, and decide whether you want fight the case yourself or will hire lawyer at the time of hearing.
- Once a PIL is to be filed in the court, there has to be submission made of the 2 copies of petition to the court and one copy to respondents in advance. In case of SC, 5 copies to be given and one to respondent after court issues the notice for the same.
There are times when a PIL can be misused, and it sets a bad example for society overall. Also the courts’ time is wasted on such frivolous matters, as there are number of other serious cases ongoing. It creates unnecessary burden on judicial system, and mala fide intentions for the court. In order to prevent this, the Supreme Court has issued guidelines that only certain matters will be entertained in form of PIL. And the exceptions have been laid down. The exceptions- certain issues in which a PIL cannot be filed are-
- Landlord- tenant matters
- Service matters
- Pension and gratuity matters
- Complaints against central, state government and local bodies, apart from those mentioned in items 1 to 1 in list of guidelines
- Admission to medical and other educational institutes
- Petitions for hearing pending cases early.