In 1979, Kapila Hingorani filed a petition and secured the release of almost 40000 undertrials from Patna’s jails in the famous ‘Hussainara Khatoon’ case. Hingorani was a lawyer. This case was filed in the SC before a Bench led by Justice P N Bhagwati. Hingorani is called the ‘Mother of PILs’ as a result of this successful case. The court permitted Hingorani to pursue a case in which she had no personal locus standi making PILs a permanent fixture in Indian jurisprudence.
Justice Bhagwati did a lot to ensure that the concept of PILs was clearly enunciated. He did not insist on the observance of procedural technicalities and even treated ordinary letters from public-minded individuals as writ petitions. Justice Bhagwati and Justice V R Krishna Iyer were among the first judges in the country to admit PILs.
The expression ‘Public Interest Litigation’ has been borrowed from American jurisprudence, where it was designed to provide legal representation to previously unrepresented groups like the poor, the racial minorities, unorganized consumers, citizens who were passionate about the environmental issues, etc.
PIL is not defined in any statute or in any act. It has been interpreted by judges to consider the intent of the public at large. It is the power given to the public by courts through judicial activism. Read in detail on the judicial activism on the linked page. However, the person filing the petition must prove to the court’s satisfaction that the petition is being filed for public interest and not just as a frivolous litigation by a busy body.
PIL was the last resort to exercise judicial activism,how ever this privilege of common men is under threat with growing reluctance of judiciary to entertain judicial activism.The PIL against the Jagarnath Temple periphery development project attract more dispute after Supreme Court dismissed the petition and imposed fine against the applicant.I differ the fine part as matter related to Jagarnath and safety of the sacred temple is common concern of every Indians.People may differ in there perception and have difference of opinion but a litigation related to Jagarnath Temple can’t be taken for granted as wastage of time.
I was seriously watching the confidence of Pinaki Mishra yesterday regarding the probable judgement,he was looking overconfident.Welcome-I also appreciate the observation of Supreme Court but my contention is the plea of Pinaki Mishra to quash the PIL. He was apprehensive of a probable proxy litigant solely on the ground that the advocates appearing for the applicants are high paid advocates.This is a peculiar claim.As if it is only the pleasure of Odisha government to hire high paid advocates like Pinaki Mishra and none other have.
By the way since the court fee of PIL is exempted why not the advocates exempt there professional fee while appearing for any PIL ?? I hope few advocates are doing so.