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Public Interest Litigation (PIL)


Last Updated on January 30, 2024 by Kanakkupillai

Public Interest Litigation is a form of legal proceedings that a petitioner seeks to bring in front of any court because it aims to safeguard people’s interests in public. It’s a power bestowed on the public by the courts, and PIL petitions should be submitted in earnest to ensure the protection of the public interest. Such issues could include practices in the community, pollution, traffic, and even excessive alcohol consumption around some parts of the area, as well as other problems related to public welfare. PIL is a widely attractive channel for the public to express and demonstrate their trials in society to the judiciary. Public interest litigation is a very elaborate term, and this article aims to illuminate its essential characteristics.

Procedure to File PIL in India

Filing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) can be initiated by submitting a petition. In India, Article 32 of the Constitution deals with applying to the Supreme Court, while Article 226 governs applying to a High Court. PIL petitions can even be initiated through a simple letter, provided it satisfies certain conditions. These conditions include the letter being addressed or expressed by an aggrieved person, an individual interested in safeguarding public interests, or a social group filing on behalf of someone unable to approach the court. Public interest litigation offers an extensive opportunity to protect the rights of the public. For instance, if industries near water bodies fail to take necessary steps to prevent waste pollution, any aggrieved person or individual interested in the public’s benefit can file a PIL petition.

Significance of Public Interest Litigation

Public Interest Litigation is paramount in protecting the human rights of individuals denied their rights. Anyone can file a PIL with a genuine interest in public welfare. It allows petitions to be filed for affected parties who cannot approach the court. One crucial function of PIL is that it serves as an effective means of judicial review, enabling scrutiny of government authorities who may misuse their powers. It also facilitates judicial monitoring of state institutions such as prisons and asylums, ensuring accountability and preventing any activities that may undermine the judicial process.

Criticism of Public Interest Litigation in India

Public Interest Litigation has recently faced criticism. One concern is that it has become a tool for publicity, with certain political parties exploiting social issues to their advantage. By filing PIL petitions, they can delay judicial remedies for specific cases, using this tactic to their benefit. To address this issue, courts should inquire into the motives behind PIL petitions and restrict political parties from misusing the process. Additionally, while PIL is a cost-effective mechanism for the benefit and welfare of the public, it should not be misused as a means to file ordinary cases unrelated to public interests.

Current Affairs Related to PIL in India

There have been several notable PIL petitions in India in recent times. Some examples include:

  • A PIL petition is challenging the PM Cares Fund.
  • A PIL petition was filed in the Supreme Court of India requesting reparation to Indians who have immigrated to Islands like Gulf countries but are stranded there for various reasons.
  • A PIL was filed before the Honorable Supreme Court, in which importance was given to state governments and municipal authorities for safeguarding the interest of sanitary workers today and in the future for their contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Public Interest Litigation petitions are an effective tool for safeguarding the basic human rights of the public. When utilized genuinely by affected parties, PIL becomes a boon for individuals and society.”


1. How can PIL be filed in India?

In India, PIL can be filed through a petition. Article 32 of the Constitution deals with filing an application to the Supreme Court, while Article 226 governs filing an application to a High Court. Even a letter can be accepted as a petition for filing PIL, provided it satisfies certain conditions, such as being addressed or expressed by an aggrieved person, an individual interested in safeguarding public interests, or a social group representing someone unable to approach the court.

2. What is the significance of Public Interest Litigation?

A: Public Interest Litigation is important in protecting individual human rights denied. It allows any person with public interest to file a petition on behalf of the affected party, especially when the affected party cannot appear before the court. PIL also serves as an effective tool for judicial review, helping monitor and prevent government authorities’ misuse of power. Additionally, it enables judicial monitoring of state institutions like prisons and asylums to ensure adherence to legal norms.

3. What are the criticisms of Public Interest Litigation in India?

A: Some criticisms surrounding PIL in India include its misuse for publicity or political advantage, resulting in delayed resolution of specific issues. To address these concerns, courts may inquire into the petitioner’s motives, restrict political parties from exploiting PIL for their gain, and ensure that PIL remains primarily focused on public welfare. It’s important to note that while PIL is a cost-effective process benefiting the public, it should not be used to file regular cases.

G.Durghasree B.A.B.L (Hons)

G Durghasree B.A.B.L (Hons) is a registered trademark attorney with extensive experience as an Advocate for a period of 8 years. She possesses expertise in trademark law, including trademark filing and trademark hearings. Additionally, she is skilled in contract drafting and reviewing, providing legal advice and opinions, particularly in the areas of Company Law, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), and Goods and Service Tax Law (GST). Her experience encompasses both litigation and non-litigation aspects of these laws.