Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

The concept of PIL originated and developed in the US in the 1960. In the USA it was designed to provide legal representation to previously unrepresented groups and interests. In India, the PIL is a product of the judicial activism role of the supreme court; it was introduced in the early 1980s. Justice V R Krishna Iyer and Justice P N Bhagwati were the pioneers of the concept of PIL.

Under the PIL, any public spirited citizen or a social organisation can move the court for the enforcement of the rights of any person or group of persons who because of their poverty or ignorance or socially or economically disadvantaged position are themselves unable to approach the court for the remedies.

The real purposes of the PIL are:

  • Vindication of the rule of law 
  • Facilitating effective access to justice to the socially and economically weaker sections of the society 
  • Meaningful realization of the fundamental rights 

Features of the PIL:

  •  PIL is a strategic arm of the Legal Aid movement and is intended to bring justice within the reach of the poor masses who constitute the low visibility area of humanity .
  • It is brought before the court not for the purpose of enforcing the right of one individual against another as happens in the case of ordinary litigation but it is intended to promote and vindicate Public Interest.
  • PIL demands that violation of constitutional and legal rights of large numbers of people who are poor, ignorant or in a socially and economically disadvantaged position should not go unnoticed and unredressed.
  • In PIL, the litigation is undertaken for the purpose of redressing public injury, enforcing public duty, protecting social, collective, diffused rights and interests or vindicating Public Interest.
  • In PIL the role held by the court is more assertive than in the traditional actions; it is creative rather than passive and it assumes a more positive attitude in determining acts.