Guidelines to be kept in mind while filing a Public Interest Litigation or writ in High Court or Supreme Court


Time to time, Supreme Court as well as various High Courts have summarized Guidelines for filing public interest litigation, petitions.

In one judgement of Hon’ble Gujarat High Court, these guidelines are summarized as under:

The Courts may ordinarily allow PIL if :-

i. That the impugned action is violative of any of the rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India and relief is sought for its enforcement;

ii. That the action complained of is palpably illegal or mala fide and affects the group of persons who are not in a position to protect their own interest on account of poverty, incapacity or ignorance;

iii. That the person or a group of persons were approaching the Court in public interest for redressal of public injury arising from the breach of public duty or from violation of some provision of the Constitutional law;

iv. That such person or group of persons is not a busybody of meddlesome interloper and have not approached with mala fide intention of vindicating their personal vengeance or grievance;

v. That the process of public interest litigation was not being abused by politicians or other busybodies for political or unrelated objective. Every default on the part of the State or Public Authority being not justiciable in such litigation;

vi. That the litigation initiated in public interest was such that if not remedied or prevented would weaken the faith of the common man in the institution of the judiciary and the democratic set up of the country;

vii. That the State action was being tried to be covered under the carpet and intended to be thrown out on technicalities;

viii. Public interest litigation may be initiated either upon a petition filed or on the basis of a letter or other information received but upon satisfaction that the information laid before the Court was of such a nature which required examination;

ix. That the person approaching the Court has come with clean hands, clean heart and clean objectives;

x. That before taking any action in public interest the Court must be satisfied that its forum was not being misused by any unscrupulous litigant, politicians, busybody or persons or groups with mala fide objective of either for vindication of their personal grievance or by resorting to blackmailing or considerations extraneous to public interest.

A person who wants to file a PIL in any court must reflect on these before preparing his PIL.

Haresh Raichura

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