Misuse of public interest litigation

Misuse of public interest litigation

Misuse of public interest litigation

Any Indian resident might submit a Public Interest Litigation, but the only condition is that it must not be filed with a private interest but in the greater public interest. At times even the court could take notice of a matter if it is of the greater public interest, and appoint an advocate to handle the matter.

Public Interest Litigation (PIL), involves a legal action taken in a court of law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest in which the public or the community who have pecuniary interest or some interest through which their legal rights or liabilities are affected.

Use and misuse of public interest litigation:

PIL must be filed considering the interest of the public at large. Careless PIL activists across the nation began to play a vital but not constructive role in the area of litigation.

Many of the PIL activists in the nation held PIL as a valuable means of harassment as frivolous matters can be filed without the investment of heavy court charges as required in private civil proceedings.

The Framers of the Indian Constitution didn’t consist of a strict doctrine of divorce but planned a system of checks and balances. Policy preparation, as well as the implementation of policies, is regarded as the exclusive domain of the executive and the legislature. 

Vishaka v State of Rajasthan, which has been a PIL regarding sexual harassment of women in the workplace. The court stated that until the legislature had passed a law consistent with the Convention on the elimination of every form of discrimination against women who had signed, the strategies set out by the court shall be enforceable.

The flexibility of the process that is a character of PIL has given rise to another set of issues. It gives the opposite parties the probability to determine the exact statement and respond to specific concerns.

It has been increasingly felt that PIL is being misused by the individuals agitating for private complaints in the garb of public interest as well as seeking publicity rather than espousing the public cause.

The governance, management, and disposal of PILs

The court has to be content with:

       •    The credentials of the claimant

       •    The prima facie correctness or nature of the information given by the claimant.

       •    The information is not unclear and indefinite.

The information must show the gravity and seriousness involved. Court has to strike a balance amid two conflicting interests

       •    Nobody must be allowed to indulge in wild and reckless allegations besmirching the character of others.

       •    Avoidance of public mischief as well as to avoid mischievous petitions looking for to assail, for oblique motives, justifiable executive actions. In such matters, however, the court cannot afford towards being liberal.

 Misuse of public interest litigation:

Public interest litigation is a powerful instrument for preserving the rule of law and to make certain the accountability of and transparency within structures of governance.  An essential part of a genuine PIL petition is that the individual who moves the court has no personal interest in the result of the proceedings, aside from a general standing as a citizen before the court.

Letters or Petitions received for PIL’s:

Letter or petitions that fall under the following categories alone would ordinarily be entertained as Public Interest Litigation;

     •    Bonded Labour matters

     •    Neglected Children

     •    Non-payment of minimum salaries to employees and exploitation of casual employees and grievances of violation of Labour Laws

     •    Petitions from jails complaining of harassment and looking for release after having completed 14 years in jail, demise in jail, transfer, release on personal bond, fast trial as a fundamental right.

     •    Petitions involving the police for declining to register a case, harassment through police and death in police custody

     •    Petitions involving the atrocities on females, especially harassment of bride, bride burning, rape, murder, kidnapping and so forth

     •    Petitions involving complains of harassment or torture of villagers through co- villagers or through police from individuals belonging towards Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and economically backward classes

     •    The petitions involving environmental pollution, disturbance of ecological balance, drugs, food adulteration, maintenance of heritage and culture, antiques, forest, and wildlife as well as other matters of public importance

     •    Petitions from riot –victims

     •    Family Pension

All letter or petitions received in the PIL Cell would first be screened in the Cell and only such petitions as are covered through the above-mentioned categories shall be placed before a Judge towards being nominated by Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India for directions after which the case shall be listed before the Bench concerned.

Following are the  matters falling under these categories would not be entertained as Public Interest Litigation and these might be returned to the claimants or filed in the PIL Cell, as the case might be: 

    •    Landlord-Tenant matters

    •    Service matter and those relating to Pension and Gratuity

    •    Complaints against Central/ State Government Departments and Local Bodies excluding those relating to item above

    •    Admission towards medical and other educational institution

    •    Petitions for early hearing of matters that are  pending in High Courts and Subordinate Courts

Misuse of PILs cases in India

The PILs that are filed which made a positive impact are: 

    1)  A Public Interest Litigation against Ganga water pollution directed towards the implementation of the Ganga Action Plan. 

    2)  Supreme Court stated in the Public Interest Litigation to give medical assistance to every injured citizen as soon as possible without waiting for any procedural rules. 

    3)  The court stated that there cannot be any classification of criminals depending on their social status, education or habit of living. 

    4)  The court stated Section 66A of the IT Act,2006, null and void therefore protecting the right to freedom of speech. 

PILs are being misused: 

PIL is used by people to settle Personal vendetta, Business scores, and Political scores. PILs are dismissed by the Court when PIL is filed against;

    •    the sale of land through public auction. 

    •    for an increase in the onions  price

    •    on the dilapidated situation of railway stations 

    •    to enquire the demise of Justice Loya  

    •    When the government of India telecommunication policy was challenged through a PIL the court refused to interfere with the matter depending on that it concerned a question of policy 

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eStartIndia Team

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