Filing Complaint through a PIL
Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is permissible as per the Indian constitution. PIL enables protection of fundamental rights of citizens who are poor, ignorant or in a socially disadvantaged position.
A public litigation is dissimilar to an ordinary litigation; wherein the latter is filed by an individual against another for enforcement of an individual right. A PIL, however, can only be filed when a 'public interest' is disregarded or dishonored, such as a public wrong or injury caused by a wrongful act by an official or public authority.
Who can file a PIL?
The Supreme Court (SC), through successive judgments has relaxed the eligibility for filing a PIL. Any individual can file a public interest litigation, provided:
- S/he is a member of the public who has sufficient interest in obtaining redressal from a public wrong or injury.
- S/he is not an interfering interloper.
- His/her action is not based on personal gain; rather it is based on benefiting the public. This implies that a frivolous litigation, by an individual with vested interests, can not be considered as public interest litigation.
How to file a PIL?
A PIL is filed like any other writ petition. In some cases, the SC considers complaint letters addressed to it as PIL. When a PIL is filed in a State High Court, two copies of the petition need to be filed; and if the issue is raised in the Supreme Court, 5 sets need to be filed. Moreover, an advance copy of the PIL needs to be served to the respondent(s).
The proceedings of a PIL are similar to that of other civil cases. One need not hire an advocate to present a public interest litigation case. The Advocates Act (Section 32) empowers an individual to represent self as well as someone else in the court. To support the protection of fundamental rights of Indians, the Supreme Court encourages the filing of PIL, particularly in addressing grave public issues related to violation of human rights and environment.