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Public Interest Litigation
According to Black's Law Dictionary, "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."
Public Interest Litigation popularly known as PIL can be broadly defined as litigation in the interest of that nebulous entity: the public in general.
Historical Back ground
Prior to 1980s, only the aggrieved party could personally knock the doors of justice and seek remedy for his grievance and any other person who was not personally affected could not knock the doors of justice as a proxy for the victim or the aggrieved party. In other words, only the affected parties had the locus standi (standing required in law) to file a case and continue the litigation and the non affected persons had no locus standi to do so. As a result, there was hardly any link between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Indian Union and the laws made by the legislature on the one hand and the vast majority of illiterate citizens on the other.
However, all these scenario gradually changed when the post emergency Supreme Court tackled the problem of access to justice by people through radical changes and alterations made in the requirements of locus standi and of party aggrieved. The splendid efforts of Justice P N Bhagwati and Justice V R Krishna Iyer were instrumental of this juristic revolution of eighties to convert the apex court of India into a Supreme Court for all Indians. And as a result any citizen of India or any consumer groups or social action groups can approach the apex court of the country seeking legal remedies in all cases where the interests of general public or a section of public are at stake. Further, public interest cases could be filed without investment of heavy court fees as required in private civil litigation.
Such efforts have been undertaken in the recognition that ordinary marketplace for legal services fails to provide such services to significant segments of the population and to significant interests. consumers.Evolution of PIL The Indian PIL is the improved version of PIL of U. According to “Ford Foundation” of U.S.A. racial and ethnic minorities and others”. .S..A. “Public interest law is the name that has recently been given to efforts that provide legal representation to previously unrepresented groups and interests. Such groups and interests include the proper environmentalists.
Ordinarily. order or writ in the High Court under Article 226 and in case any breach of fundamental rights of such persons or determinate class of persons. helplessness or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position unable to approach the court for relief. any member of public can maintain an application for an appropriate direction. In 1981 Justice P. 1981 (Supp) SCC 87. Bhagwati in .According to the jurisprudence of Article 32 of the Constitution of India. only the aggrieved party has the right to seek redress under Article 32. Union of India. articulated the concept of PIL as follows: “Where a legal wrong or a legal injury is caused to a person and such class of persons by reasons of poverty. “The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this part is guaranteed”. in this court under Article 32 seeking judicial redress for the legal wrong or legal injury caused to such person or . P. Gupta v. N.S.
» The injury must have arisen because of breach of public duty or violation of the Constitution or of the law. . » The person bringing the action has sufficient interest to maintain an action of public injury.When a PIL can be filed? According to the guidelines of the Supreme Court any member of public having sufficient interest may maintain an action or petition by way of PIL provided: » There is a personal injury or injury to a disadvantaged section of the population for whom access to legal justice system is difficult.
causing inconvenience to commuters. Merely because. There are some of the possible areas where PIL can be filed. b) Where.When a PIL can be filed? So. in night causing noise pollution. d) Where some construction company is cutting down . c) Where some “Banquet Hall” plays a loud music. and people nearly are getting effected. only one person is effected by state inaction is not a ground for PIL. in an area/ street there are no street lights. PIL can be filed only in a case where “Public Interest” at large is affected. a) Where a factory/ industry unit is causing air pollution.
. such as segregation of convicts. k) For removal of Big Hoarding and signboards from the busy road to avoid traffic problem. are affected. before the court on remand dates. Sewer etc in good condition. and bonded labour. g) For abolishing child labour. f) For directing the police/ Jail authorities to take appropriate decisions in regards to jail reforms.e) Where poor people. i) For keeping a check on corruption and crime involving holders of high political officer. h) Where rights of working women are affected by sexual harassment. because of state government’s arbitrary decision to impose heavy “Tax”. delay in trial. j) For maintaining Roads.
can file a PIL for. However. . it will depend on every facts of case. any person can file a PIL on behalf of group of affected people. whose rights are affected. for employing child labour. For e. It is clear that. It is not necessary. a person in Bombay. than the period prescribed as punishment for offence. There is the case where a standing practicing lawyer filed a PIL for release of 80 under trials in a jail. for which they were tried.g.Who can file the PIL? any Public-spirited person can file a case (PIL) on behalf of a group of person. that person filing a case should have a direct interest in this PIL. some labour workers being exploited in Madhya Pradesh or as someone filed a PIL in supreme court for taking action against a Cracker factory in Sivakasi Tamilnadu. whether it should be allowed or not.
Municipal Authorities.. after making concerned state authority. Pollution Control Board. and not any private party. However.Against whom a PIL can be Filed? A PIL can be filed against a State/ Central Govt. “Private party” can be included in the PIL as “Respondent”.if there is a Private factory in Delhi. . However. then people living nearly. which is causing pollution. For example. a PIL cannot be filed against the Private party alone. and against the private factory. or any other person can file a PIL against the Government of Delhi. a party.
2) By democratization of access to justice. right against torture. education. sexual harassment. Courts attention can be drawn even by writing a letter or sending a telegram. bondage and servitude. clean environment. the courts seek to protect human rights in the following ways: 1) By creating a new regime of human rights by expanding the meaning of fundamental right to equality. exploitation and so on emerge as human rights. means and livelihood. solitary confinement. Any public spirited citizen or social action group can approach the court on behalf of the oppressed classes. medical care. . These new reconceptualised rights provide legal resources to activate the courts for their enforcement through PIL. life and personal liberty. housing. free legal aid. This has been called epistolary jurisdiction. dignity. In this process.Features of PIL Through the mechanism of PIL. This is done by relaxing the traditional rule of locus standi. the right to speedy trial.
and the like. This may be . In most of the cases the court has appointed its own socio-legal commissions of inquiry or has deputed its own official for investigation. women’s protective homes. For example. the court can award interim compensation to the victims of governmental lawlessness. juvenile homes.3) By fashioning new kinds of relief’s under the court’s writ jurisdiction. the court seeks gradual improvement in their management and administration. Through judicial invigilation. 5) By devising new techniques of fact-finding. This has been characterized as creeping jurisdiction in which the court takes over the administration of these institutions for protecting human rights.. Sometimes it has taken the help of National Human Rights Commission or Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or experts to inquire into human rights violations. mental asylums. 4) By judicial monitoring of State institutions such as jails.
The PIL was filed by an advocate on the basis of the news item published in the Indian Express. The same set pattern was adopted in subsequent cases. These proceeding led to the release of more than 40. Right to speedy justice emerged as a basic fundamental right which had been denied to these prisoners. highlighting the plight of thousands of under trial prisoners languishing in various jails in Bihar.Foundation case of PIL The first reported case of PIL in 1979 focused on the inhuman conditions of prisons and under trial prisoners. 000 under trial prisoners. State of Bihar. . AIR 1979 SC 1360. In Hussainara Khatoon v.
. Through interim orders S. AIR 1982 SC 1008. exposed the brutalities of the Police. C. The court also read right to free legal aid as a fundamental right of every accused. It also ordered speedy prosecution of the guilty policemen. In 1981 the case of Anil Yadav v. News paper report revealed that about 33 suspected criminals were blinded by the police in Bihar by putting the acid into their eyes. Anil Yadav signalled the growth of social activism and investigative litigation. directed the State government to bring the blinded men to Delhi for medical treatment. State of Bihar.
R.Illustrative Cases Peoples Union for Democratic Rights v. 1982 . S C 1473). Union of India ( A. The court now permits Public Interest Litigation or Social Interest Litigation at the instance of " Public spirited citizens" for the enforcement of constitutional & legal rights of any person or group of persons who because of their socially or economically disadvantaged position are unable to approach court for relief..I. Public interest litigation is a part of the process of participate justice and standing in civil litigation of that pattern must have liberal reception at the judicial door steps. .
SC 149: Court held Public Interest Litigation can be filed by any member of public having sufficient interest for public injury arising from violation of legal rights so as to get judicial redress. This is absolutely necessary for maintaining Rule of law and accelerating the balance between law and justice. In the Judges Transfer Case . .AIR 1982.
Union of India (1988) 1 SCC 471 . . Shiram Food & Fertilizer case AIR (1986) 2 SCC 176 SC through Public Interest Litigation directed the Co.C Mehta V. as he is the person interested in protecting the lives of the people who make use of Ganga water.In a Public Interest Litigation brought against Ganga water pollution so as to prevent any further pollution of Ganga water. Manufacturing hazardous & lethal chemical and gases posing danger to life and health of workmen & to take all necessary safety measures before re-opening the plant. In the case of M. Supreme court held that petitioner although not a riparian owner is entitled to move the court for the enforcement of statutory provisions .
. Union of India . SC 2039 :.Supreme Court held in the Public Interest Litigation filed by a human right activist fighting for general public interest that it is a paramount obligation of every member of medical profession to give medical aid to every injured citizen as soon as possible without waiting for any procedural formalities.AIR 1989. Parmanand Katara V.
Council For Environment Legal Action V.(1996)5 SCC281 : Public Interest Litigation filed by registered voluntary organization regarding economic degradation in coastal area. Supreme Court issued appropriate orders and directions for enforcing the laws to protect ecology. Union Of India . .
. In Public Interest Litigation (PIL) vigilant citizens of the country can find an inexpensive legal remedy because there is only a nominal fixed court fee involved in this. 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. 2. Further. through the so-called PIL.Advantages of PIL 1.
. Of late.Abuse of PIL The development of PIL has also uncovered its pitfalls and drawbacks. many of the PIL activists in the country have found the PIL as a handy tool of harassment since frivolous cases could be filed without investment of heavy court fees as required in private civil litigation and deals could then be negotiated with the victims of stay orders obtained in the so-called PILs. And the abuse of PIL is also increasing along with its extended and multifaceted use. the apex court itself has been compelled to lay down certain guidelines to govern the management and disposal of PILs. As a result.
The court must be careful to see that the petitioner who approaches it is acting bona fide and not for personal gain. Political pressure groups who could not achieve their aims through the administrative process or political process may try to use the courts (through the means of PILs) to further their closely vested aims and interests. .STEPS NECESSARY With the view to regulate the abuse of PIL the apex court itself has framed certain guidelines to govern the management and disposal of PILs. private profit or political or other oblique considerations. The court should not allow its process to be abused by politicians and others to delay legitimate administrative action or to gain political objectives.
It’s an institutional initiative towards the welfare of the needy class of the society. (1995) 1 SCC 14.C. Supreme Court issued guidelines for rehabilitation and compensation for the rape on working women.PIL as an Instrument of Social Change PIL is working as an important instrument of social change. . Union of India. S.g. ordered for the release of bonded labourers. It is working for the welfare of every section of society. In a landmark judgement of Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum v. Union of India. In Murli S. Dogra v. The innovation of this legitimate instrument proved beneficial for the developing country like India. In Bandhu Mukti Morcha v. For e. In Vishaka v. Union of India. PIL has been used as a strategy to combat the atrocities prevailing in society. court banned smoking in public places. State of Rajasthan Supreme court has laid down exhaustive guidelines for preventing sexual harassment of working women in place of their work. It’s the sword of every one used only for taking the justice.
. its attempt is to endure observance of social and economic programmes frame for the benefits of have-nots and the handicapped. One can simply approach to the Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights by writing a letter or post card to any Judge.Conclusion Supreme Court has now realised its proper role in welfare state and it is using its new strategy for the development of a whole new corpus of law for effective and purposeful implementation of Public Interest Litigation. Public Interest Litigation has proved a boon for the common men. That particular letters based on true facts and concept will be converted to writ petition. When Court welcome Public Interest Litigation .
Public Interest Litigation has set right a number of wrongs committed by an individual or by society. . which the executive has not been able to do despite a lot of money is being spent on new legal aid schemes operating at the central and state level. Court has brought legal aid at the doorsteps of the teeming millions of Indians. By relaxing the scope of Public Interest Litigation. Supreme Court's pivotal role in expanding the scope of Public Interest Litigation as a counter balance to the lethargy and inefficiency of the executive is commendable.
Lok Adalat .
. arbitration or conciliation. They are only supplementary to the courts.WHAT IS LOK ADALAT? It is a judicial institution developed by the people themselves for social justice. It settles litigation by negotiation. Lok Adalats are not alternative to the existing courts. It is a dispute settlement agency.
many matters would not find their way to the Courts. There is serious problem of overcrowding of dockets. Therefore. if there was at the threshold a permanent mechanism or machinery to settle the matters at a pretrial stage. Because of the ever-increasing number of cases the Court system is under great pressure. .Historical Background of Lok Adalat Seekers of justice are in millions and it is becoming rather difficult for the Courts to cope up with the everincreasing cases with the present infrastructure and manpower.
The reason to create such camps were only the pending cases and to give relief to the litigants who were in a queue to get justice. the load of cases could be taken off the Courts. cases must be resolved by resorting to 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' Methods before they enter the portals of Court. Similarly. The evolution of this movement was a part of the strategy to relieve heavy burden on the Courts with pending cases. . if there are permanent forums to which Courts may refer cases. In order to reduce the heavy demand on Court time.
.First Lok Adalat Camps of Lok Adalat were started initially in Gujarat in March 1982 and now it has been extended throughout the Country.
" . I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature. thereby not even money. and to enter men's hearts. I lost nothing. I realised that the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven as under. has said: "I had learnt the true practice of law. was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. The lesson was so indelibly burnt unto me that the large part of my time. the father of nation. certainly not my soul. during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer.Gandhiji`s views on Lok Adalat Mahatma Gandhi.
Statutory Provisions According to Legal Services Authorities (Amendment) Act 1994 effective from 09-11-1995 has since been passed. Certain salient features of the Act are enumerated below: . Lok Adalat settlement is no longer a voluntary concept. By this Act Lok Adalat has got statutory character and has been legally recognized.
2 )Conciliators for Lok Adalat comprise the following : i. A sitting or retired judicial officer. District and Taluka legal Services Authority has been created who are responsible for organizing Lok Adalats at such intervals and place. State. .Main provisions Section 19 1) Central. other persons of repute as may be prescribed by the State Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court. ii.
iii.Section 20: Reference of Cases Cases can be referred for consideration of Lok Adalat as under: i. appropriate iv. equity. By consent of both the parties to the disputes. the matter shall be returned to the concerned court for disposal in accordance with Law. Where no compromise has been arrived at through conciliation. v. One of the parties makes an application for reference. . ii. Compromise settlement shall be guided by the principles of justice. fairplay and other legal principles. Where the Court is satisfied that the matter is an one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat.
The matter need not be reffered to the concerned Court for consent decree. Every award made by the Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties to the dispute. The Act provisions envisages as under: i. . ii. award is passed by the conciliators. No appeal shall lie from the award of the Lok Adalat. Every award of Lok Adalat shall be deemed as decree of Civil Court. iii.Section 21 After the agreement is arrived by the consent of the parties.
Reception of evidences. iii. Summoning of Witnesses. Discovery of documents. . Requistioning of Public record. iv. ii.Section 22 Every proceedings of the Lok Adalat shall be considered to be judicial proceedings for the purpose of i.
. with two other members.Organization of Lok Adalat Every State Authority or District Authority or the Supreme court Legal Services Committee or every High Court Legal Service Committee or as the case may be Taluk Legal Service Committee may organize. usually a lawyer and a social worker.Lok Adalats at such intervals and places and for exercising such jurisdiction and for such areas as it thinks fit. The Lok Adalat is presided over by a sitting or retired judicial officer as the chairman.
Disputes like partition suits.Procedure of Lok Adalats Main condition of the Lok Adalat is that both parties in dispute should agree for settlement. Lok Adalat is very effective in settlement of money claims. . where they can get their disputes settled fast and free of cost. Lok Adalat is a boon to the litigant public. No appeal lies against the order of the Lok Adalat. The decision of the Lok Adalat is binding on the parties to the dispute and its order is capable of execution through legal process. damages and matrimonial cases can also be easily settled before Lok Adalat as the scope for compromise through an approach of give and take is high in these cases.
which are followed in a regular court. iii. i. bitterness apart from the saving of expenses of court fees and other expenses. ii. Apart from some minimum requirements in respect of procedures and approaches. The parties are saved from extremely technical court procedures.Advantages of Lok Adalats There are certain definite advantages of this institution. . They are saved from protracted litigation. anxiety. which they were likely to incur. the rest of the exercise is simple and varied as the nature of the problems and the culture of the community demand. The organization of Lok Adalat is informal and flexible.
Disadvantages of Lok Adalats .
insufficient representation of weaker sections like Scheduled Castes. has given all these powers to the local bodies.73rd & 74th Constitution Amendment Act Need 1. however. Scheduled Tribes and women. prolonged suppressions. the Union Government has decided to propose two amendments in the Indian Constitution. None of the States. it has been observed that these institutions have not been able to acquire the status and dignity of viable and responsive people's bodies due to a number of reasons including absence of regular elections. In an effort to give more powers to the panchayat. . Though the Panchayati Raj Institutions have been in existence for a long time. The Indian Constitution has categorically given 29 functions to the panchayat. Most of these powers are still held by the State Governments. inadequate devolution of powers and lack of financial resources.
it is considered that there is an imperative need to enshrine in the Constitution certain basic and essential features of Panchayati Raj Institutions to impart certainty. Article 40 of the Constitution which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy lays down that the State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government. . continuity and strength to them. In the light of the experience in the last forty years and in view of the short-comings which have been observed.
Accordingly. if any. .. constitution of Panchayat at village and other level or levels. Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages. direct elections to all seats in Panchayat at the village and intermediate level. and to the offices of Chairpersons of Panchayat at such levels. it is proposed to add a new Part relating to Panchayat in the Constitution to provide for among other things.
Aim & Object The passage of the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in 1994 has been hailed as a landmark in the evolution of local governments in India. Scheduled Castes. . Scheduled Tribes. It mandated reservations of positions in these local bodies for women and for individuals from two traditionally disadvantaged (and constitutionally recognized) groups: Dalits. The amendments provided rural and urban local governments with a constitutional status that they had previously lacked and reinforced this status by mandating regular elections to locally elected bodies.
This was seen as a means of promoting greater community participation and involvement in developmental efforts of rural India.At the national level. . the ostensible aim of the constitutional amendments was clearly to revitalize local government.
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