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How to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)?

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  4 April 2015 12:00 AM GMT

What is a PIL?

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) - litigation for public interest. PIL was started to protect the fundamental rights of people who are poor, ignorant or in socially/economically disadvantaged position. It is different from ordiry litigation, in that it is not filed by one private person against another for the enforcement of a persol right. The presence of ‘public interest’ is important to file a PIL.

A PIL can be filed when the following conditions are fulfilled:

- There must be a public injury and public wrong caused by the wrongful act or omission of the state or public authority.

- It is for the enforcement of basic human rights of weaker sections of the community who are downtrodden, ignorant and whose fundamental and constitutiol rights have been infringed.

- It must not be frivolous litigation by persons having vested interests.

Who can file a PIL?

The Supreme Court (SC), through its successive judgements has relaxed the strict rule of ‘locus standi’ applicable to private litigation.

Any person can file a PIL provided:

He is a member of the public acting bo fide and having sufficient interest in instituting an action for redressal of public wrong or public injury.

He is not a mere busy body or a meddlesome interloper.

His action is not motivated by persol gain or any other oblique consideration.

How to file?

A PIL may be filed like a write petition. However, in the past the SC has treated even letters addressed to the court as PIL. In People’s Democratic union v Union of India, a letter addressed by the petitioner organization seeking a direction against the respondents for ensuring observance of the provisions of famous labour laws in relation to workmen employed in the construction work of projects connected with the Asian games was entertained as a PIL.

The SC has encouraged the filing of PIL for tackling issues related to environment, human rights etc

In High Court:

If a Public Interest Litigation is filed in a High court, then two (2) copies of the petition have to be filed. Also, an advance copy of the petition has to be served on the each respondent, i.e. opposite party, and this proof of service has to be affixed on the petition.

In Supreme Court:

If a Public Interest Litigation is filed in the Supreme court, then (4)+(1) (i.e. 5) sets of petition has to be filed opposite party is served, the copy only when notice is issued.

Court Fees:

A court fee of RS. 50, per respondent (i.e. for each number of opposite party, court fees of RS. 50) has to be affixed on the petition.


Proceedings, in the PIL commence and carry on in the same manner, as other cases.

However, in between the proceedings if the judge feels he may appoint a commissioner, to inspect allegations like pollution being caused, trees being cut, sewer problems, etc.

After filing of replies, by opposite party, and rejoinder by the petitioner, fil hearing takes place, and the judge gives his fil decision.

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