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Public Interest Litigation

Updated: Sep 25

A Public Interest Litigation or PIL in short refers to any format of litigation filed in a court of law for the protection of 'public interest'.

It was first introduced to India by Justice P. N. Bhagwati. The term in itself is borrowed from American jurisprudence, where it was designed to provide legal representation to previously unrepresented groups like the economic and racial minorities, unorganised consumers etc.

There are many landmark cases in India that have truly highlighted the importance of such litigation; one of which is the case of Hussainara Khatoon vs. State of Bihar.

The case delves into the inhumane treatment that prisoners awaiting trial received as well as the inhumane conditions they were subject to, whilst remaining in jail. To read more about this case, you can check out this article.

Some of the primary reasons as to why the PIL is so significant in India are:

  1. It aims to give poor and marginalised communities a way to approach the court to seek legal redress.

  2. It helps in judicial monitoring of several state institutions like jails, hospitals etc.

  3. It is an important tool for implementing the concept of judicial review.

However,every good thing can bring about several negatives. In modern India, PILs are often filed by parties with vested interests; often matters concerning exploited and disadvantaged groups are left pending for many years,thereby rendering the judgement as one with no real results or outcomes.

In conclusion, PILs have definitely had an extremely positive impact on the nation, by allowing people shunned or denied rights by the society to come forth with their grievances,however, frivolous PILs ought to be removed in order to keep the workload manageable for the Indian judiciary.

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