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Public Interest Litigation

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Criticism on PIL

  • Supreme Court allowing filing of a PIL mere by writing a letter opens a door for flooding the SC with cases claiming to be violation of Fundamental Rights there by resulting delay in deciding many other important case.
  • Interference of Courts in the activities of Legislature and Executive would lead to conflict between the three organs of the Government.
  • In some cases, courts have no capacity to enforce its orders and in many cases the conditions have not changed.


Several corruption cases in India, such as the Hawala scam, Urea scam, Bihar fodder scam, St Kits scam, Ayurveda medicines scam and illegal allotment of Government houses and petrol pumps have seen the light because of PIL.

Related Cases / Recent Cases

  • Janata Dal vs H S Choudhary, AIR 1993 SC 892: PIL is a legal action initiated in a Court of Law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest in which the public of a class of community having pecuniary interest or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected.
  • Sheela Barse vs Union of India, AIR 1988 SC 2211: Supreme Court of India held that PIL, unlike in traditional dispute resolution mechanism, there is no determination or adjudication of individual rights.
  • R vs Metropolitan, Police Commissioner Ex parte Blackburn, (1968) 1 All E R 763: Petition seeking mandamus so as to compel the police to enforce the law against gambling clubs was allowed.
  • US vs JG Raines, (1960) 262 US 17: When a person suffering legal wrong or a legal injury is unable to move the Court for some reason, some other person may invoke the assistance of the Court for the purpose of providing judicial redress so that justice is done to him.
  • US vs JG Raines, (1960) 262 US 17; US vs SCRAP, 411 US 669 (1973): PILs were on the rise in the US till 1976 and the courts allowed them liberally.
  • Worth vs Seldin, 422 US 490 (1975); Simon Easter Kentucky Welfare Rights Organisation, 426 US 26 (1976); Horrie vs McRe, 488 US 297 (1980): Courts did not allow PIL unless the plaintiffs showed something more than a 'generalized grievance.
  • Sheela Barse vs State of Maharashtra, AIR 1983 SC 378: PIL revealed custodial violence done to women in Bombay Central Jail.
  • Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs Union of India, AIR 1984 SC 802: Court decides the issues arising from the petition.
  • Bihar Legal Support Society v Chief Justice of India: PILs have been evolved with a view to bring justice within the easy reach of the poor and the disadvantaged sections of the community.
  • Peoples Union for Democratic Rights v Union of India, AIR 1983 SC 339: Locus standi to file a petition for enforcement of various labour laws under which certain benefits are conferred on the workers.
  • Bandhu Mukti Morcha v Union of India, AIR 1984 SC 803: PIL on bonded labourers and the SC constituting a two-advocate committee
  • Mohanlal Sharma v State of UP, (1989) 2 SCC 609: Supreme Court accepts a telegram by the father of a son who was murdered in police lockup. The SC ordered a CBI probe into the episode.
  • Parmananda Katara v Union of India: SC held that it is the obligation of every member of medical profession to give medical aid to every injured citizen brought for treatment immediately without waiting for procedural formalities to be completed in order to avoid negligent death.
  • National Federation of Blind v UPSC: SC held that Government has to give job opportunities for the blind.
  • Union of India v Association for Democratic Reforms: SC directed Election Commission of India to issue a notification making it compulsory for those contesting in elections o make available information about their educational qualification, assets, liabilities and criminal antecedents at the time of nomination for the benefit of voters.
  • Bharatiya Homoeopathy College v Students Council of Homoeopathy Medical College, (1998) 1 SCC 449
  • re C E E Institutions v State of Bihar, AIR 2003 Pat: SC directed Bihar State Government to construct, reconstruct / repair school buildings that are in urgent need of attention.

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