Letter-petition PIL rule of Supreme Court



(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:-
1. Bonded Labour matters.
2. Neglected Children.
3. Non-payment of minimum wages to workers and exploitation of casual workers and complaints of violation of Labour Laws (except in individual cases).
4. 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.

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.
(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, brideburning, 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

**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.

**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.
+ 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.


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