Public Interest Litigation--- It's meaning :- IN BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY :- "Public Interest Litigation means a legal action initiated in a court of law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest in which the public or class of the community have pecuniary interest or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected."
Public Interest Litigation's explicit purpose is to allenate the suffering off all those who have borne the burnt of insentitive treatment at the hands of fellow human being. Transparency in public life & fair judicial action are the right answer to check increasing menace of violation of legal rights. Traditional rule was that the right to move the Supreme Court is only available to those whose fundamental rights are infrigned.
But this traditional rule was considerably relaxed by the Supreme Court in its recent rulings: Peoples Union for Demcratic Rights v. Union of India ( A.I.R.. 1982 , S C 1473). The court now permits Public Interest Litigation or Social Interest Litigation at the instance of " Public spirited citizens" for the enforcement of constitutional & legal rights of any person or group of persons who beacause of their socially or economically disadvantaged position are unable to approach court for relief. Public interest litigation is a part of the process of participate justice and standing in civil litigation of that pattern must have liberal reception at the judicial door steps.
In the Judges Transfer Case - AIR 1982, SC 149 : Court held Public Interest Litigation can be filed by any member of public having sufficient interest for public injury arising from violation of legal rights so as to get judicial redress. This is absolutly necessary for maintaining Rule of law and accelerating the balance between law and justice.
It is a settled law that when a person approaches the court of equity in exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction, he should approach the court not only with clean hands but with clean mind, heart and with clean objectives.
Shiram Food & Fertilizer case AIR (1986) 2 SCC 176 SC through Public Interest Litigation directed the Co. Manufacturing hazardous & lethal chemical and gases posing danger to life and health of workmen & to take all neccessary safety measures before re-opening the plant.
In the case of M.C Mehta V. Union of India (1988) 1 SCC 471 :- In a Public Interest Litigation brought against Ganga water pollution so as to prevent any further pollution of Ganga water. Supreme court held that petitioner although not a riparian owner is entitled to move the court for the enforcement of statutory provisions , as he is the person interested in protecting the lives of the people who make use of Ganga water.
Parmanand Katara V. Union of India - AIR 1989, SC 2039 :- Supreme Court held in the Public Interest Litigation filed by a human right activist fighting for general public interest that it is a paramount obligation of every member of medical profession to give medical aid to every injured citizen as soon as possible without waiting for any procedural formalities.
Council For Environment Legal Action V. Union Of India - (1996)5 SCC281 : Public Interest Litigation filed by registered voluntary organisation regarding economic degradation in coastal area. Supreme Court issued appropriate orders and directions for enforcing the laws to protect ecology.
A report entitled "Treat Prisoners Equally HC" published in THE TRIBUNE , Aug 23 Punjab & Haryana High Court quashed the provisions of jail manual dividing prisoners into A , B & C classes after holding that there cannot be any classification of convicts on the basis of their social status, education or habit of living .This is a remarkable ruling given by High Court by declaring 576-A paragraph of the manual to be " Unconstitutional".
State V. Union Of India --AIR 1996 Cal 181 at 218 :- Public Interest Litigation is a strategic arm of the legal aid movement which intended to bring justice. Rule Of Law does not mean that the Protection of the law must be available only to a fortunate few or that the law should be allowed to be abused and misused by the vested interest. In a recent ruling of Supreme Court on " GROWTH OF SLUMS" in Delhi through Public Interest Litigation initiated by lawyers Mr. B.L. Wadhera & Mr. Almitra Patel Court held that large area of public land is covered by the people living in slum area . Departments despite being giving a dig on the slum clearance , it has been found that more and more slums are coming into existence. Instead of "Slum Clearance", there is "Slum Creation" in Delhi . As slums tended to increase ; the Court directed the departments to take appropriate action to check the growth of slums and to create an environment worth for living.
During the last few years, Judicial Activism has opened up a new dimension for the Judicial process and has given a new hope to the millions who starve for their livelihood. There is no reason why the Court should not adopt activist approach similar to Court in America , so as to provide remedial amplitude to the citizens of India.
Supreme Court has now realised its proper role in welfare state and it is using its new strategy for the development of a whole new corpus of law for effective and purposeful implementation of Public Interest Litigation. One can simply approach to the Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights by writing a letter or post card to any Judge. That particular letters based on true facts and concept will be converted to writ petition. When Court welcome Public Interest Litigation , its attempt is to endure observance of social and economic programmes frame for the benefits of havenot's and the handicapped. Public Interest Litigation has proved a boon for the common men. Public Interest Litigation has set right a number of wrongs committed by an individual or by socitey. By relaxing the scope of Public Interest Litigation, Court has brought legal aid at the doorsteps of the teeming millions of Indian ; which the executive has not been able to do despite a lot of money is being spent on new legal aid schemes operating at the central and state level. Supreme Court's pivotal role in expanding the scope of Public Interest Litigation as a counter balance to the lethargy and inefficiency of the executive is commendable.