The constitution of India guarantees equal rights to all citizens irrespective of race,gender, religion, and other considerations and the “directive principle of state policy” as stated in Indian constitution obligate the government to provide to all citizens a minimum standard, the promise has not been fulfilled. The greater majority of Indian people have no assurance of two nutritious meals a day, safety for employment, safe and clean housing or such level of education as would make it possible for them to understand their constitutional right and obligation. Indian newspaper abound in the stories of the exploitation by the landlord, factory, owner, businessman and the states own functionaries, such as police and revenue officials- of children, women, villagers, the poor and the working class.
Judiciary is a third wing of government of India empowered to administer justice to the people. The Judicial control and administrative actions provides fundamental safeguard against the abuse of power.
Rule of law does not mean that the protaction of law be available only to fortunate few as that the law should be allowed to be prostituted by the vested interest for protecting and upholding the status quo under the guise of enforcement of their civil and political rights. Poor to have the civil and political right and rule of law is meant for them also, though it exist only on paper not in reality. If the sugar baros and the alcohol king have a fundamental right to carry on their business and to fatten their purse by exploiting the consuming public ,have the chamars belonging to the lowest starta of society no fundamental right to earn an honest living through their sweat and toil?
Thus the court thus was willing to acknowledge that it had amended to advance the rights of disadvantage and poor, though this might be at the behest of the individual or group who themselves claimed no disability. Such litigation termed Public Interest Litigation or Social Action Litigation.
PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION
Public Interest Litigation means a legal action initiated in a court of law regarding a matter which is related to or connected to interest of public. Public means an individual, body of individual or masses in general. Its purpose is to provide justice to the ordinary people. It has been divised for those people who are unable to approach the courts on their own because of their deprived conditions such as poverty, illiteracy, social and economic backwardness and lack of awareness.
FACTORS GAVE RISE TO PIL
PIL started in India as a result of the feeling of some of the supreme court judges that mainly the rich and politically powerful people could take the help of the court of law in India. The ordinary, illiterate, poor, social and educationally backward could not approach the court of law. The high cost complicated and the slow legal procedure made it still more difficult for them to approach the court of law. It is assumed that PIL will contribute towards the radical change in society, if it could help in enforcing the fundamental right of weak and poor people.
PIL is the result of judicial activisim. The basic reason for the growth of PIL is the bureaucratic unresponsiveness to the public needs. No effective mechanism has been established as yet for the redressal of the public grievances against the administration. The result is that any person having grievances against the administration has no alternative but to take recourse of the courts for the redressal of his grievances against the administration.
PIL has flourished in India mainly because of the lack of any sense of accountability and responsibility on the part of the government. Had the administration discharge its role faithfully and effectively there would be no need for the public to knock at the door of the court to assert the right and ensure that the administrative acts according to the law. Many statute remain on the statute book without the administration taking any step to implement the same. On the other hand, the courts have played their role in a constructive manner with view to promote the welfare of the people and strength the democratic fabric in Country.
THE DOCTRINE OF LOCUS STANDI
Traditionally a petition could be filed by a person who suffered infraction of his rights and was an ‘aggrieved’ person. The concept of locus standi means that only the person whose legal rights are being violated can approach the court for redressal. Exception was made in the case of petition for Habeas Corpus where a relative or any friend could file a petition on behalf of the person in detention.
The Locus Standi for PIL has been libarlised in relation to the traditional view on the locus standi. P.N Bhagwati J. stated “A new dimension has been given to the doctrine of Locus Standi which revolutionized the whole concept of access to justice”. The court enunciated the needs to relax the locus standi rule.
In Bandhua Mukti morcha v. Union Of India the supreme court entertained a matter concerning release of bonded lobour raised by the organization dedicated to the abuse of release of bonded labor. The court went on to emphasize that PIL is not in the nature of adversary litigation but it is a opportunity and challenge to the government and its officers to make the basic human rights meaningful to the deprived and vulnerable sections of community and to assure them social and economic justice.
In S.P Gupta v. Union Of India where Bhagwati J. stated that any member of the public having sufficient interest can maintain an action for judicial redress for public injury.
The strict rule of locus standi applicable to private litigation is relaxed as in Janta Dal v. H.C Choudhary and a broad rule is evolved which gives the right of locus standi to any member of the public acting bonafide and having sufficient interest in instituting an action for redressal of public wrong or injury.
The court concluded that writ petitioner had no locus standi to file the PIL writ petition and the petition had been filed not for the promotion of public interest but for the protection of certain accused persons.
Majority feel that every PIL should be entertained by the court either it brought up to the court by letter or telegram or in any other way. The court should not impose the burden of proof on the petitioner who brought the PIL before the court otherwise no public dare to file PIL in court. No public stand for the protection and prevention of downtrodden, illiterate poor people who are not aware of their rights.
The court should organize separate tribunal for the entertainment of PIL,so that every PIl should appear before the judges and this separate tribunal also reduce the burden of supreme court and high court. Number of judges should also b increased in these tribunals
India is a developing country where more than million of people living below poverty line and are poor and illiterate,court provide PIL for them therefore PIL should be free of cost. They should be given opportunity to hire the eminent lawyer. As the government organize various awareness programs on different protective issues, the awareness programs on PIL should also be organized so that every individual be aware of his rights and duty and also of the rights and duties of others specially of socially and economically backward class of people so that they can make every executive authority or any public servent accountable and responsible for their function and duty. They will not tolerate abusiveness of any governmental or state authority.
Student, Department of Law, Dr. Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya
[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]