By Shivam Goel, 3rd Year Law Student at VIPS, Delhi (Online Intern @LawOF)



As soon as we entered the Law Schools, we start to develop interests in some or the other subjects as we explore more and more and aim for going further with that subject in career as well. All Law subjects would sooner or later turn out to be useful to us, which might not seem the case during the law schooling. Certainly, we might also develop interests in subjects pertaining to law which are not taught to us during our law school journey, since Law is a profession which has its approach not limited to the four walls of our law college and is rather much beyond that. Well, I have gradually developed my favouritism for Public Interest Litigation as a subject as well as a work area.

Yes, we might have read about PILs as a topic in our Constitutional Law subject but were never taught about it as a separate subject in our Law Schools. In Indian law, public interest litigation means litigation for the protection of the public interest. It is litigation introduced in a court of law, not by the aggrieved party but by the court itself or by any other private party. The seeds of the concept of PIL are the results of judicial pronouncements in the mid-80s when the judiciary was very actively undertaking the matters of general public importance and so it came up with the new concept. The concept of PIL has rested the rule of Locus Standi to a certain extent and a person acting bonafide and having sufficient interest in the proceeding of Public Interest Litigation will alone have a locus standi and can approach the court to wipe out violation of fundamental rights and genuine infraction of statutory provisions, but not for personal gain or private profit or political motive or any oblique consideration.  PILs generally pertain to larger public issues affecting a group, especially in the fields of Human Rights, Consumer Welfare and Environment Protection.

Well like all others, even I was unaware about PIL as such in my first year of law. It was only when I joined Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) as an intern; I came to know the real power of PIL. There, I also got the opportunities of interaction with Mr Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India who is a renowned Human Rights Lawyer and a social activist. I gained a lot of exposure there and filled my bags with knowledge about the concept of Public Interest Litigation about the conditions to be satisfied to file it. I also learned to draft a PIL. One basic thing I was told was that we must come to file a PIL with our hands clean i.e. one must not have any sort of interest and ill will in filing the PIL. Also interestingly PIL is one of the least opted legal fields by young lawyers, either due to limitation of money or due to lack of interest. One must not also expect any gains from this practice and shall only have a ‘hunger’ for justice if wants to join PIL otherwise if a person has more focus on filling his pockets, then PIL is certainly not a field to grow for him. The anger and ambition in the eyes is what certainly helps litigator to seek justice for all. It takes a real courage to fight against such authorities who have big pockets but it’s even more courageous when we fight not for ourselves but for others. There is a person who has to be appreciated at remembered whenever we talk about PIL and he is Mr Mahesh Chandra Mehta, a lawyer by profession and a committed environmentalist by choice who used PIL to protect India’s environment in his unending mission. His contributions towards the environment protection through PILs are what have inspired me and many others to opt for PIL as a career.

The concept of PIL is yet to develop in India and can be well imagined as being incorporated as an academic subject in the Law Colleges in the near future as well. PIL is a tool which has certainly raised the expectations for many, hoping for a social change and making India a better place for its citizens. It is preferred to ensure that the true sense of Fundamental Rights enshrined in our Constitution is served to the people and to deter those who act against the society.

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