Public interest litigation (PIL) is an important concept in the Indian legal system. In a society with high income disparity and an ingrained caste system, PILs function as a means of supporting marginalized groups and giving voice to the common man.
What is public interest litigation?
A PIL is a petition to the Indian court (High Court or Supreme Court) for justice on a particular issue that impacts society at large. It is a strategic utilization of the law with the goal of effecting positive social change.
Who can file a petition?
The following stakeholders can file a PIL:
- Citizen group
- Non-government organization
Is there a fee to file?
The cost of filing is PIL is Rs 50–which is comparatively cheap in relation to court fees for other types of cases. This price point makes PILs a more accessible option to the lower income strata of society.
What types of issues are acceptable for a PIL?
A valid PIL must be a matter of public concern. The acceptance of a petition is always at the discretion of the judge. Generally, PILs on the following topics will be accepted by the court:
- Bonded labor
- Child neglect
- Worker exploitation or labor law violation
- Misconduct by jail authorities
- Police misconduct
- Misconduct against women
- Caste- or tribe-targeted misconduct
- Degradation of environment, food or cultural/heritage sites
- Riot victimization
- Family pension
Public interest litigation is a valuable tool that–when used effectively–can provide protections of life and liberty to the poor and disenfranchised members of society which are most in need of it.