The term ‘public interest litigation’ comes from American law, where it was created to offer legal representation to previously unrepresented groups such as the poor, racial minorities, unorganized consumers, individuals concerned about environmental concerns, and so on.
PIL in the constitution is a type of lawsuit brought in a court of law to safeguard “public interest” issues such as pollution, terrorism, road safety, and construction dangers, among others. Any issue that affects the public interest can be resolved by filing a PIL in the Constitution in a court of law. No legislation or act defines PIL in the Constitution. Judges have construed it to include the general public’s intent.
The authority provided to the public by courts through judicial activism is known as PIL in the Constitution. The person filing the petition, on the other hand, must show the court that it is being filed in the public interest rather than as a frivolous case. Cases can be started on the petition of any public-spirited citizen, or the court might take charge of the subject and proceed suo-moto.
Bonded Labor issues, Neglected Children, Non-payment of minimum wages to employees and exploitation of casual workers, Atrocities against women o Environmental contamination, and disruption of ecological balance are only a few of the issues that are considered under PIL.
Factors Responsible for the Growth of PIL in the Constitution
- Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) of India’s written constitution offer a framework for regulating interactions between the state and its citizens, as well as between citizens.
- In terms of bonded labor, minimum salaries, land ceilings, environmental protection, and other issues, India has some of the most progressive social legislation in the world. This has made it simpler for the courts to hold the government accountable when it fails to fulfill its legal obligations to protect the poor.
- The court’s liberal interpretation of locus standi, which permits anybody to petition the court on behalf of anyone unable to attend in person due to financial or physical constraints, has benefited. Judges have acted on their own initiative in reaction to media reporting or correspondence.
- Although the social and economic rights outlined in Part IV of the Indian Constitution are not legally enforceable, courts have creatively interpreted them as basic rights, making them judicially enforceable.
- Judicial reforms to assist the poor and oppressed.
- When a petitioner is unable to provide all of the necessary evidence, either because it is voluminous or because the parties are socially or economically disadvantaged, courts have formed commissions to gather facts and lay them before the court in case of PILs.
Who Can File a PIL in the constitution and Against Whom?
- Any citizen can launch a PIL in the constitution by submitting a petition before
a) the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.
b) In the High Court of India, under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.
c) In the Court of Magistrate, pursuant to section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
- The court must be satisfied, however, that the Writ petition meets some basic requirements for PIL in the constitution because the letter is addressed by an aggrieved person, a public-spirited individual, or a social action group for the enforcement of legal or constitutional rights to anyone who is unable to approach the court for redressal.
- A PIL in the Constitution can only be brought against the state or federal government, municipal authorities, and not private individuals. The Government and Parliament of India, as well as the Government and Legislatures of each of the States, as well as all local and other authorities inside India’s territory or under its authority, are all included in the concept of state. PILs in the Constitution must be filed with legal counsel.
Significance of PIL in the constitution
- The goal of PIL in the constitution is to provide ordinary people access to the courts to seek legal remedies.
- PIL in the constitution is a crucial tool for social transformation, preserving the rule of law, and speeding the balance of law and justice.
- PILs were established in the constitution to make justice more accessible to the poor and marginalized.
- It is a critical instrument for bringing human rights to those who have been denied them.
- It guarantees that everyone has access to the legal system. Anyone capable can file petitions on behalf of individuals who are unable or do not have the resources to do so.
- It aids judicial oversight of state institutions like prisons, asylums, and protective homes, among others.
- It is an essential tool for putting the concept of judicial review into action.
- The introduction of PILs in the Constitution ensures increased public engagement in judicial review of administrative action.
Certain Weakness of PIL
PIL activities can occasionally result in competing rights issues. When a court orders the closure of a polluting factory, for example, the court may not consider the interests of the workers and their families who are losing their jobs.
It might result in courts being overburdened with spurious PILs filed by entrenched interests. Today, PILs are being used for business, political, and personal benefit. The PIL is no longer restricted to issues affecting the poor and underprivileged.
PIL in the Constitution has yielded incredible achievements that would have been impossible three decades ago. Through court action, bonded laborers, women prisoners, humiliated inmates of protected women’s homes, blinded prisoners, exploited children, beggars, and many more have been given relief. PIL in the constitution is the most significant achievement to increase government responsibility for poor people’s human rights. To file a PIL in the Constitution, it is important to get the correct legal advice, and therefore it is suggested to contact an expert lawyer who would guide you through the process.