Constitution of India, 1950

Public interest litigation

Public interest litigation, which has now come to occupy an important field in the administration of law should not be ‘publicity interest litigation’ or ‘private interest litigation’ or ‘politics interest litigation’. There must be real and genuine public interest involved in the litigation and it cannot be invoked by a person or a body of persons to further his or their personal causes or satisfy his or their personal grudge and enmity or to get publicity. Courts of justice should not be allowed to be polluted by unscrupulous litigants by resorting to the extraordinary jurisdiction. A person acting bona fide 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 provision. But no one should be allowed to use it for personal gain or private profit or political motive or any oblique consideration. Public interest litigation is a weapon which has to be used with great care and circumspection and the judiciary has to be extremely careful to see that behind the beautiful veil of public interest a ugly private malice, vested interest and/or publicity seeking is not lurking. It is to be used as an effective weapon in the armoury of law for delivering social justice to the citizens. The attractive brand name of public interest litigation should not be used for suspicious products of mischief. It should be aimed at redressal of genuine public wrong or public injury and not publicity oriented or founded on personal vendetta.

The Court has to be satisfied about (a) the credentials of the applicant; (b) the prima facie correctness of nature of information given by him; (c) the information being not vague and indefinite. The information should show gravity and seriousness involved.

Court has to strike balance between two conflicting interests; (i) nobody should be allowed to indulge in wild and reckless allegations besmirching the character of others; and (2) avoidance of public mischief and to avoid mischievous petitions seeking to assail, for oblique motives, justifiable executive actions. In such cases, however, the Court cannot afford to be liberal.

It has to be extremely careful to see that under the guise of redressing a public grievance, it does not encroach upon the sphere reserved by the Constitution to the Executive and the Legislature. The Court has to act ruthlessly while dealing with imposters and busy bodies or meddlesome interlopers impersonating as public-spirited holymen. Courts must do justice by promotion of good faith, and prevent law from crafty envasion. Courts must maintain the social balance by interfering where it is necessary for the sake of justice and refuse to interfere where it is against the social interest and public good.

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