Public Interest Litigation: The term "Public Interest" means the larger interests of the public, general welfare and interest of the masses ((Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edn.) Vol.Xll) and the Word “Litigation” means "a legal action including all proceedings therein, initiated in a court of Law with the purpose of enforcing a right or seeking a remedy." Thus, the expression `Public Interest Litigation' means "any litigation conducted for the benefit of public or for removal of some public grievance." In simple words, public interest litigation means. Any public spirited citizen can move/approach the court for the public cause (or public interest or public welfare) by filing a petition in the Supreme Court under Art.32 of the Constitution or in the High Court under Art.226 of the Constitution or before the Court of Magistrate under Sec. 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In Indian law, public interest litigation means litigation for the protection of the public interest. It is litigation introduced in a court of law, not by the aggrieved party but by the court itself or by any other private party. It is not necessary, for the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction, that the person who is the victim of the violation of his or her right should personally approach the court. Public interest litigation is the power given to the public by courts through judicial activism. However, the person filing the petition must prove to the satisfaction of the court that the petition is being filed for a public interest and not just as a frivolous litigation by a busy body. The seeds of the concept of public interest litigation were initially sown in India by Krishna Iyer J., In 1976 in Mumbai Kamgar Sabha vs. Abdul Thai (AIR 1976 SC 1455) and was initiated in Akhil Bharatiya Shoshit Karmachari Sangh (Railway) v. Union of India (AIR 1981 SC 298), wherein an Unregistered association of workers was permitted to institute a writ petition under Art.32 of the Constitution for the redressal of common grievances. Krishna lyer J., enunciated the reasons for Liberalization of the rule of Locus Standi in Fertilizer Corporation Kamgar Union v. Union of India (AIR 1981 SC 344) and the idea of 'Public Interest Litigation' blossomed in S.P. Gupta and Others vs. Union of India, (AIR 1982 SC 149). HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF PIL THROUGH THREE PHASES IN INDIA Two judges of the Indian Supreme Court (Bhagwati and Iyer JJ.), Prepared the groundwork from Mid-1970s to early 1980s, for the birth of PIL in India. This included modifying the traditional requirements of locus standi, liberalizing the procedure to file writ petitions, creating or expanding Frs, overcoming evidentiary problems, and evolving innovative remedies. Modification of the traditional requirement of standing was sine qua non for the evolution of PIL and any public participation in justice administration. The need was more pressing in a country like India where a great majority of people were either ignorant of their rights or were too poor to approach the court. Realizing this need, the Court held that any member of public acting bona fide and having sufficient interest has a right to approach the court for redressal of a legal wrong, especially when the actual plaintiff suffers from some disability or the violation of collective diffused rights is at stake. Later on, merging representative standing and citizen standing, the Supreme Court in Judges transfer case held: ‘‘Where a legal wrong or a legal injury is caused to a person or to a determinate class of persons by reason of violation of any constitutional or legal right . . . And such person or determinate class of persons is by reasons of poverty, helplessness, or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position, unable to approach the Court for any relief, any member of the public can maintain an application for an appropriate direction, order or writ.’’ The court justified such extension of standing...
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