What is Public Interest Litigation (PIL)?
PIL is an innovative tool through which access to judiciary has increased in India. PIL is not defined in any statute or in any act. It has become the source of Judicial Activism in recent years.
- 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
- After Emergency, SC decided to change the norms of “locus standi“. Now 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
- By a process of reinterpretation of two fundamental rights — the Right to Personal Liberty in Article 21 and the Right to Equality before Law in Article 14 — the court gave the judiciary an enlarged power of review to protect the basic rights of citizens
Flaws in PIL:
- Original motive of PIL was to uphold the rights of poor. But now PIL is used more to simply correct the actions or omissions of public officials, government departments or other public bodies.
- PIL leads to judicial intervention in other branches of government leading to violation of principle of separation of power.
- Huge number of PILs are filed causing delays. It defeats the very purpose of PIL which was making judiciary accessible.