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how to file a public interest litigation (pil)?


How to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)?

What is a PIL?
Public Interest Litigation (PIL) - litigation for public interest. PIL was started to protect the fundamental rights of people who are poor, ignorant or in socially/economically disadvantaged position. It is different from ordinary litigation, in that it is not filed by one private person against another for the enforcement of a personal right. The presence of 'public interest' is important to file a PIL.

A PIL can be filed when the following conditions are fulfilled:
- There must be a public injury and public wrong caused by the wrongful act or omission of the state or public authority.
- It is for the enforcement of basic human rights of weaker sections of the community who are downtrodden, ignorant and whose fundamental and constitutional rights have been infringed.
- It must not be frivolous litigation by persons having vested interests.
Who may file a PIL?            
The Supreme Court (SC), through its successive judgements has relaxed the strict rule of 'locus standi' applicable to private litigation.

Any person can file a PIL provided:

  • He is a member of the public acting bona fide and having sufficient interest in instituting an action for redressal of public wrong or public injury.
  • He is not a mere busy body or a meddlesome interloper.
  • His action is not motivated by personal gain or any other oblique consideration.

How to file a PIL?
A PIL may be filed like a write petition. However, in the past the SC has treated even letters addressed to the court as PIL. In People’s Democratic union v Union of India, a letter addressed by the petitioner organization seeking a direction against the respondents for ensuring observance of the provisions of famous labour laws in relation to workmen employed in the construction work of projects connected with the Asian games was entertained as a PIL.
The SC has encouraged the filing of PIL for tackling issues related to environment, human rights etc

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Very vital information indeed


Its a very good information and can be used appropriately. The PIL has become so important and useful judiciary medium and such information can benefit lots of people


it it very important for our country which is going to develop.most of the matter relating to the society which may solved bynthis way.


Please let me know the difference between PIL & Writ, if any?


No doubt it gives an overall idea on Public Interest litigation.


kindly refer my post dated 14.4.2009 I may pl be provided maximum help  for filng PIL  at SCI



I am sharing the below information on the subject





(Based on full Court decision dated 1.12.1988 and subsequent modifications).

No petition involving individual/ personal matter shall be entertained as a PIL matter except as indicated hereinafter.

Letter-petitions falling under the following categories alone will ordinarily be entertained as Public Interest Litigation:-



Bonded Labour matters.



Neglected Children.



Non-payment of minimum wages to workers and exploitation of casual workers and complaints of violation of Labour Laws (except in individual cases).


Petitions from jails complaining of harassment, for (pre-mature release)* and seeking release after having completed 14 years in jail, death in jail, transfer, release on personal bond, speedy trial as a fundamental right.


$ Petitions for premature release, parole etc. are not matters which deserve to be treated as petitions u/Article 32 as they can effectively be dealt with by the concerned High Court. To save time Registry may simultaneously call for remarks of the jail Superintendent and ask him to forward the same to High Court. The main petition may be forwarded to the concerned High Court for disposal in accordance with law.

(5) Petitions against police for refusing to register a case, harassment by police and death in police custody.

(6) Petitions against atrocities on women, in particular harassment of bride, bride-burning, rape, murder, kidnapping etc.


In such cases where office calls for police report if letter petitioner asks for copy the same may be supplied, only after obtaining permission of the Hon'ble Judge nominated by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India for PIL matters.


$ Added based on Order dated 19.8.1993 of the then Chief Justice of India.


(7) Petitions complaining of harassment or torture of villagers by co- villagers or by police from persons belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and economically backward classes.

(8) Petitions pertaining to environmental pollution, disturbance of ecological balance, drugs, food adulteration, maintenance of heritage and culture, antiques, forest and wild life and other matters of public importance.

(9) Petitions from riot -victims.

(10) Family Pension.

All letter-petitions received in the PIL Cell will first be screened in the Cell and only such petitions as are covered by the above mentioned categories will be placed before a Judge to be nominated by Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India for directions after which the case will be listed before the Bench concerned.

If a letter-petition is to be lodged, the orders to that effect should be passed by Registrar (Judicial) (or any Registrar nominated by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India), instead of Additional Registrar, or any junior officer.

To begin with only one Hon'ble Judge may be assigned this work and number increased to two or three later depending on the workload.

*Submission Notes be put up before an Hon'ble Judge nominated for such periods as may be decided by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India from time to time.


**It may be worthwhile to require an affidavit to be filed in support of the statements contained in the petition whenever it is not too onerous a requirement.


If on scrutiny of a letter petition, it is found that the same is not covered under the PIL guidelines and no public interest is involved, then the same may be lodged only after the approval from the Registrar nominated by the Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India.

+ Added as per Order dated 29.8.2003 of the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India.

* As per Order dated 29.8.2003 of the Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India.


**The matters which can be dealt with by the High Court or any other authority may be sent to them without any comment whatsoever instead of all such matters being heard judicially in this Court only.

Cases falling under the following categories will not be entertained as Public Interest Litigation and these may be returned to the petitioners or filed in the PIL Cell, as the case may be:

(1) Landlord-Tenant matters.

(2) Service matter and those pertaining to Pension and Gratuity.

(3) Complaints against Central/ State Government Departments and Local Bodies except those relating to item Nos. (1) to (10) above.

(4) Admission to medical and other educational institution.

(5) Petitions for early hearing of cases pending in High Courts and Subordinate Courts.

In regard to the petitions concerning maintenance of wife, children and parents, the petitioners may be asked to file a Petition under sec. 125 of Cr. P.C. Or a Suit in the Court of competent jurisdiction and for that purpose to approach the nearest Legal Aid Committee for legal aid and advice.


** Modified keeping in view the directions dated 29.8.2003 of

the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India.

Even in regard to petitions containing allegations against Jail Authorities there is no reason why it cannot be dealt with by the High Court. But petitions complaining of torture, custody death and the like may be entertained by this Court directly if the allegations are of a serious nature.


it is giveing an overall idea on Public Interest litigation.

Dear Shree,


It's a very useful information. In fact, I was searching for this ever since I saw BCI's decision on age limit for LL.B. I thought of finding the PIL# so that my name can be added to the list. After reading the topic & with another LCI member's help, I realized it's 'Public Interest Litigation'. 

A little correction I would want to make in this thread. Instead of  'Who may file a PIL?', shouldn't it be 'Concept of PIL' ?


Concept of PIL

According to the jurisprudence of Article 32 of the Constitution of India, “The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this part is guaranteed”. Ordinarily, only the aggrieved party has the right to seek redress under Article 32.



In 1981 Justice P. N. Bhagwati in .S. P. Gupta v. Union of India, articulated the concept of PIL as follows, “Where a legal wrong or a legal injury is caused to a person or to a determinate class of persons by reason of violation of any constitutional or legal right or any burden is imposed in contravention of any constitutional or legal provision or without authority of law or any such legal wrong or legal injury or illegal burden is threatened and such person or determinate class of persons by reasons of poverty, helplessness or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position unable to approach the court for relief, any member of public can maintain an application for an appropriate direction, order or writ in the High Court under Article 226 and in case any breach of fundamental rights of such persons or determinate class of persons, in this court under Article 32 seeking judicial redress for the legal wrong or legal injury caused to such person or determinate class of persons.”


The rule of locus standi have been relaxed 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.




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