Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and Judicial Activism | What is Litigation

Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) – Its objective is to provide justice to the people who somehow couldn’t get it by themselves.

Litigation meaning – As defined in businessdictionary, it is Legal method for settling controversies or disputes between and among persons, organizations, and the State.

Public Interest Litigation is defined as litigation involved in the protection of the interests of the public at large.

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is generally used to protect group interest and not individual interest.

Some Facts about PIL

–> It is used to enforce the legal obligation of the executive and the legislature.

–> Supreme Court and the High Court’s have the right to issue Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

–> The concept of the PIL has emanated from the power of judicial review of the Constitution.


Public Interest Litigation (PIL) can be filed by any active citizen or organization. The relief provided by the ruling/court is in the form of order to the State which includes compensation to the affected parties.

The Public Interest Litigation has served important purposes like:

–> It has forced the executive and the legislature to discharge their Constitutional obligations towards the people.

–> It has enormously increased the awareness among the masses about their rights and the institutional arrangements in the form of the judiciary to get them implemented.
It is said that the PIL has democratized the judiciary.

–> It has made an attempt to provide a corruption – free administration and a livable environment to the public


Criticism of Public Interest Litigation

 Debated heavily, its said that it has interfered with normal judicial function of the courts. Many a times it led to some frivolous litigations filed to get certain process delayed.


–> As a general rule, the litigants must be  made to provide the proof of the allegation made in the petition he/she is filing.

–> The judiciary may also impose fines for if it finds frivolous Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

 –> For this a screening committee is appointed by the judiciary to study the PILs which were filed & submit a report to save time.

–> The Court may also make liberal use of amicus curie (‘friend of the court’) in Disposing the PILs more effectively.

Supreme Court on March 12, 1997, in an oral observation, said that the Public Interest Litigation should be supported by an affidavit sworn by one who has personal knowledge of the facts averred in the petition.


Judicial activism

In Judicial activism, the court becomes activists and forces the authority to act or direct the government and its policies towards an issue that is beneficial for the society in general and people at large.

Through this, Justice is provided to the aggrieved citizens. It is an interference of the judiciary in the working of legislature and executive.

It is believed that the concept of Judicial Activism has been around for centuries.

litigationJudicial activism has come into light in recent times when Supreme court  has tried to ensure that the administration of the country does not suffer because of the negligence on the part of the executive and the legislature.

The power of judicial activism has emerged from the power of judicial review of the Constitution.

Example of Judicial Activism

–> Recently when issues like environment pollution crop up and the concerned authority took no serious action the court stepped in for the concern of people at large.

–> Judicial activism plays an important role in Bhopal gas tragedy and the Jessica Lal Murder case.

–> Public auction of all natural resources should be done

–> Employers must now act against sexual harassment at workplace.

–> Banning the pasting of black film on automobile’s windows.

For preserving the sanctity of the Constitution’s structure, Supreme Court have time and again resorted to the weapon called as  judicial activism.

When Judiciary took its cognizance in the 2G spectrum case and interfered  proves the necessity of judicial activism in restructuring the administrative requirements.

For short term it’s good as it maintains the balance with its proper checks.

But it should not be carried for long as it may disturb the concept of separation of power with the judiciary assuming greater powers from the executive and the legislature without having any authority above it for its checks.

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