In the past, litigation in India was an expensive affair. Wealthy people were the only ones who took legal measures to protect or enforce their rights. This procedure entailed the aggrieved party filing a lawsuit or taking legal action against the wrongdoer in order to get their concerns and complaints addressed. As a result, given their limited resources, individuals opted for litigation.
There was little to no effort made to alleviate or even address the grievances and concerns that certain groups of people, or even the general public, faced. The judiciary, as the guardian of citizens’ constitutional rights, plays a critical role in these matters. The Judiciary has the authority to review laws and administrative decisions or acts in order to ensure and avoid violations of constitutional rights.
If a citizen’s constitutional right is violated, he or she has the option of filing a writ petition with the Supreme Court or a High Court to seek redress. As straightforward as this may seem, the lengthy and complicated nature of litigation makes access to justice difficult, if not impossible, for the vulnerable and underprivileged.
The Supreme Court adopted the idea of Public Interest Litigation to make justice more available to all people. People from all walks of life were able to file PILs in order to get their basic rights enforced by the courts. Social welfare organizations, social activists, and any public-spirited citizen may also approach the courts on behalf of the general public’s interests.
This rule states that unless an individual has been directly injured or is aggrieved by the act he is challenging, his action will not be upheld in court. Instead of addressing the broader public interest, the objects of environmental law, the need for distributive justice, and participatory democracy, when an environmentalist presents a court with an environmental issue, the court focuses on the identification of the individual who brings the action.The following questions are posed: Who is he? Is he affected on a personal level? Has he sufficient personal interest in the matter in issue?
The Latin word locus (plural loci) means “place.” “Locus standi” is Latin for “place to stand” and refers to the legal right to file a lawsuit. It is a party’s ability to show the court that the law or action challenged has a sufficient relation to and damage from it to justify the party’s involvement in the case. The Supreme Court of the United States has confirmed that -In essence, the question of locus standi is whether the litigant is entitled to have the court determine the merits of the case or specific issues.
Injury: The plaintiff must have suffered or imminently will suffer injury - an invasion of a legally protected interest which is concrete and particularized. The injury must be actual or imminent, distinct and palpable, not abstract. This injury could be economic as well as non-economic.
Causation: There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of, so that the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant and not the result of the independent action of some third party who is not before the court.
Redress ability: It must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that a favorable court decision will redress the injury.
In Indian context, A individual whose constitutional or legal right is infringed may seek relief under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, according to tradition. However, the Supreme Court has recently liberalized the Locus Standi clause. The Court now allows public-spirited individuals to file a writ petition for the protection of every other person’s or class’s constitutional and statutory rights, even though that person or class is unable to claim the High Court’s jurisdiction due to poverty or any other social economic impairment. Article 226 of the Indian Constitution is wider in scope than Article 32. Under article 226, the aggrieved party can approach the High Court for violation of not just their fundamental rights but also legal rights. However, under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, a person can approach the Supreme court only for Violation of Fundamental Rights.
Public Interest Litigation with respect to Locus Standi.
If socially or economically vulnerable people are unable to protect themselves, a public-spirited individual may use this provision on their behalf. The strict rule of Locus Standi applicable to private litigation is relaxed in public interest litigation, and a broad rule is established by the courts in modern times. Any member of the public acting in good faith and with sufficient interest in bringing a suit for redress of a public wrong or injury, but who is not a mere busybody or a meddlesome interloper, may be granted the right of Locus Standi: Since the primary goal of Interest Litigation is to ensure that the provisions of the Constitution or the law are followed to the fullest extent possible in order to advance the cause of the community, disadvantaged groups and individuals, or the public interest, any person, acting in good faith and with sufficient intercession, is permitted to do so.
- Bandhu Mukti Morcha Vs Union of India
The Court held in this case that the Public Interest Litigation is not adversary litigation, but rather a challenge and incentive for the government and its officers to make basic Human Rights meaningful to the poor and vulnerable. As a result, the court is assisting them in achieving their constitutional objectives. Article 32 of the Constitution gives the court the authority to name a Commission to investigate human rights violations.
- Akhil Bhartiya Soshit Karmachari Sangh Vs. Union of India
The Supreme Court ruled in this case that the Akhil Bhartiya Soshit Karmachari Sangh (Railway) could file a writ-petition under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution through an unregistered association for the redressal of a popular grievance. The current Constitutional jurisprudence, according to Krishna Iyer, J, is access to justice through “class actions,” “public interest litigation,” and “representative proceedings.”
- S.P Gupta v Union of India
A group of lawyers filed a writ petition about the appointment of judges under Article 226 of the Constitution. Since the lawyers had a genuine interest in the disposition of cases and the appointment of judges, the petition was granted. In India, this case ushered in a new age of public interest litigation. PIL is one of the most powerful instruments for enforcing public duties that were previously carried out unlawfully, causing injury to society.