PIL is being misused in many ways, for serving private interest in the grab of public interest. Do you agree?

PIL is being misused in many ways, for serving private interest in the grab of public interest. Do you agree?

Public Interest Litigation means a legal action initiated in a court of law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest in which the public or class of the community have pecuniary interest or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected. The introduction of PIL in India was facilitated by the relaxation of the traditional rule of ‘locus standi’. Thus, in a PIL, any member of the public having ‘sufficient interest’ can approach the court for enforcing the rights of other persons and redressal of a common grievance.

  1. Powerful tool: Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a powerful tool in the hands of vigilant citizens of the country to espouse the cause of the marginalised and oppressed. Example: The Vishaka judgment recognized sexual harassment as “a clear violation” of the fundamental constitutional rights of equality, non- discrimination, life, and liberty, as well as the right to carry out any occupation.
  2. Democratization of access of justice: This is done by relaxing the traditional rule of locus standi. Any public spirited citizen or social action group can approach the court on behalf of the oppressed classes. Courts attention can be drawn even by writing a letter or sending a telegram. This has been called epistolary jurisdiction.
  3. Inexpensive legal remedy: The citizen can find an inexpensive legal remedy because there is only a nominal fixed court fee involved in this.
  4. Through PIL, the litigants can focus attention on and achieve results pertaining to larger public issues, especially in the fields of human rights, consumer welfare and environment. For instance, Environmental jurisprudence has developed around the rubric of public interest petitions. Principles such as the polluter pays and the public trust doctrine have evolved during the adjudication of public interest petitions.
MISUSE OF PIL- in the garb of public interest
  1. PIL had now become a facade for people hungry for publicity or those who wanted to settle personal, business or political scores. Example: A petitioner filed a PIL seeking NIA/CBI probe into an incident of 2015 when a dais being prepared for the Prime Minister to address the public fell in Raipur in Chhattisgarh, two years after the incident took place.
  2. The efficacy of the judicial system is compromised by futile and frivolous petitions. It affects the ability of the court to devote its time and resources to cases which legitimately require attention.
  3. SC said that public interest which, upon due scrutiny, are found to promote a personal, business or political agenda. Example: The SC termed PIL seeking SIT probe into PNB scam as publicity interested petitions since investigation was already going on in the matter and arrests were being made.

PIL is a radical procedural innovation that allows the court to overcome conventional, constitutional norms of the separation of powers, dilute procedural norms and devise unique and far-reaching institutional remedies. While it serves larger public interests, it should not become “Publicity Interest Litigation” or “Private Interest Litigation”.

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