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Condition for entertaininga Public Interest Litigation


At the first instance the petitioner has to satisfy this Court that he is entitled to maintain this writ petition as a public interest litigation. Such public interest litigations are entertained as a means to vindicate the grievances of the public in respect of certain extraordinary executive harassment and denial of the fundamental right to weaker sections of the community. Even though the rule of locus standi has been liberalised largely due to the dynamic activism of the Courts in India, it has to be remembered that it is intended to be used only under extraordinary circumstances. In a leading judgment of the Supreme Court in S.P. Gupta Vs. President of India and Others, which gave a judicial recognition to such a public interest litigation, the Supreme Court cautioned the Courts while entertaining such petitions in the following words :

“But we must hasten to make it clear that the individual who moves the court for judicial redress in cases of this kind must be acting bona fide with a view to vindicating the cause of justice and if he is acting for personal gain or private profit or out of political motivation or other oblique consideration the Court should not allow itself to be activised at I the instance of such person and must reject his application at the threshold, whether it be in the form of a letter addressed to the Court or even in the form of a regular writ petition filed in Court. We may also point out that as a matter of prudence and not as a rule of law, the Court may confine this strategic exercise of jurisdiction to cases where legal wrong or legal injury is caused to a determinate class or group of persons or the constitutional or legal right of such determinate class or group of persons is violated and as far as possible, not entertain cases of individual wrong or injury at the instance of a third party, where there is an effective legal aid organization which can take care of such cases.”

For Example, we are conscious of the fact that in cases of illegal custody and wrongful confinement anybody who has got some interest with the affected persons can move this Court for issue of a writ of habeas corpus. Courts have entertained petitions filed by third parties provided they move the Court with bona fide intentions and without any ulterior motive. In such cases, the petitioner has to establish a prima facie case to the effect that the person affected is under illegal custody or wrongful confinement.

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