Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India

Are you unhappy with the events happening nearby?  Do you believe that the steps taken by the government for doing some work are not good for the public interest? Is there any other wrong work happening that is violating human rights? If you think that these questions are related to your life so you should know about the public interest litigation which is also known as PIL.

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is litigation that can be filed by any member of the public In which the public interest is a subject. Litigation is filed To redress the wrong or injury to the public. The person can file the PIL in any matter where the interest of the public at large is affected by pollution, terrorism, road safety or hazardous construction etc. It is a powerful weapon against the work which are violating the Human Rights or fundamental rights of the citizen of India. The reason behind the PIL is to protect the people of India. The public interest litigation can consider as the fundamental right given under the constitution of India to the citizen of India to protect their rights.

In the article on public interest litigation, we will discuss all the aspects of public interest litigation and the importance of PIL.

What is Public Interest Litigation?

The meaning of Public Interest Litigation is protecting the public interest by filing litigation in court. It is the use of law to protect the rights of the public. PIL provides the right to equality to the citizen of India. The PIL is can be filed by a person or a group of persons from the side of the public to show the wrong or injury happening to the public due to private or government matters.

The public interest litigation is known as जनहित याचिका in Hindi.

The PIL relax the rule of locus standi and it is different from other litigation and it is not mandatory that the person or group of persons who made the complaint has to appear in court. It means, that a person, who doesn’t have any interest in the public problem which is being faced by the group of people, can also file the PIL in the court even though he does not have any interest. He can file such litigation on behalf of those people who are suffering.

The PIL is playing an important role to solve public problems like child labour, Prisoners of jail, cases related to environmental, illegal Constructions, mining, Education, elections and many more. These are some fields in which the PIL has given its judgement and protection to the citizen of India.

The public interest litigation is neither defined in the constitution of India nor in any other law. The law does not restrict the person or a group of persons to file the PIL against public or private matters. The PIL can be filed against both private and government work.

History of Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

Firstly, the concept of public interest litigation originated in the United States of America. They were using PIL in the mid-1980s. After some time, many other countries started using this concept in their county. The PIL was adopted in India in 1986.

Who can file the public interest litigation (PIL)?

The PIL can be filed by:

  • A person: a sole person can file the PIL against any public or private work in which the public is being harassed or the work is affecting the public interest.
  • A group of persons: The PIL Can be filed by a group of persons against public or private work which is harming the public interest.
  • The court: The court itself can take action to provide remedies to aggrieved persons who are suffering due to some government work.

It should keep in mind that:

  • PIL can only be filed in cases related to the public interest.
  • A person cannot file Public Interest Litigation for his personal injury or loss.
  • Moreover, the person who is finding the PIL must not have any interest in the litigation.

Parties against whom the PIL can be filed

The PIL can be filed by a person against the State government, central government and municipal authority. The PIL cannot be filed against the private person alone. If a person wants to file the PIL against the private person or private work like the work of a company, factory of a partnership firm, the person has to add state government and local authorities as parties with that private person.

Let us take the example, a private factory polluting air and water in Delhi which causing harm to the public. Now, if a person wants to file PIL against that factory, he will add the State government of Delhi and pollution control board of Delhi as party including the factory as a party in the litigation.

Where I can file the public interest litigation?

Any person who is a citizen of India can file the PIL:

In the Supreme Court of India

Article 32 of the Constitution of India provides the remedy to the person to file the PIL as a writ petition to the Supreme Court of India.

In the High Court

Article 226 of the Constitution of India provide the remedy to the person or a group of persons to file Public Interest Litigation or writ petitions in the High Court.

In the court of Magistrate

The person can file the PIL in the court of magistrate by taking the help of section 133 of the criminal procedure code.

These are the Courts in India that have the capacity to take the PIL into consideration and pass the necessary orders to solve the problem related to the public interest.

How to file public interest litigation (PIL)?

There are some steps to take by a person to file the PIL which are:

  • Approach a lawyer or organization to file the case related to PIL. The person can file the case alone or in a group. There is no need for any such lawyer to file the PIL.
  • Collect all the oral and documentary evidence related to the problem which is causing harm to the public interest.
  • Names and addresses of the aggrieved party who is filing the petition in the court
  • Names and addresses of the parties against whom the case is being filed
  • Any important dates like in date of eviction or date of injunction stop the work. The date of the notice of eviction.
  • At the end of the application, the prayer or relief is sought from the court of law.
  • After filing the PIL against the parties, the person must have sent the copy of the PIL to every defendant party (in case of High court)

Characteristics of public interest litigation in India

PIL can be filed even by sending a postal letter to the court. The court has the authority to consider this letter as Public Interest Litigation. These are some following characteristics of public interest litigation:

  • Any person or group of people can file the PIL
  • The postal later can also be considered as PIL by the court
  • The court has the authority to accept the PIL without any Court fees
  • It can be filed against the State government or even against any private person who is violating the rights of the public.

Benefits of the public interest litigation

There are various benefits of the PIL that is provided to the citizen of India.  the following benefits are:

  • It aware the public about their rights
  • It provides many different and new rights of the citizen which has been seen in recent years
  • Any person can file the PIL without Locus Standi
  • These types of litigations bind the executive and courts to do their work properly
  • PIL is the biggest and important step against corruption in India.
  • The court may appoint the commission in special cases of PIL in which the commission will check the details related to PIL.

These are some important benefits of PIL in India.

F&Q related to Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

Who has the right to file Public Interest Litigation?

Any person who is a citizen of India can file PIL, but there is just one condition that PIL must not be related to his personal problem it should be filed in the court for the public interest only. It means if there is any issue related to the public interest or which is harming the public, any person or the court itself can take the action to file the PIL in the court. The court may also appoint the Advocate to fight the case after taking PIL into consideration.

How much time the court will take to give the season in PIL cases?

The decision or judgement of the court totally depends upon the facts of PIL and the various problems discussed in the PIL. Normally, the PIL which are related to fundamental rights or human rights takes less time for judgement. The overload in the courts and Increasing in the numbers of PIL in the courts overburdening the Courts in India. It is the main reason that the judgement took years to serve justice.

Can PIL be filed in district court?

The person can file PIL in the Supreme Court or any other high court under Articles 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution. The person can also file the PIL to the magistrate under section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code.


In this article, we discussed public interest litigation and its importance and how to file the PIL in court. In today’s time, people are using PIL to become famous. By watching such things, the court now applies the cost to the person who is applying PIL just to take benefits for himself. This cost is a fine to the person who wastes the time of the court by filing an unusual Public Interest Litigation.

So if you want to find PIL in any matter, It should be kept in mind that The matter is dealing with the public problem.

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