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Why do you think the introduction of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the 1980 s is a significant step in ensuring access to justice for all?

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The introduction of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the 1980s is a significant step in ensuring access to justice for all because it also keeps in mind the interests of the illiterate and poor who are not educated enough or cannot afford to access the Indian legal system for justice against exploitation or violation of their basic human and Fundamental Rights.

Post-1980 period the judiciary was willing to take into account the rights of those sections of society who would find it difficult to take help from the courts. Public Interest Litigation (PIL) or Social Action Litigation (SAL) is the main instrument through which judicial activism flourished in India. The idea of rights has been expanded through Public Interest Litigation (PIL). The rights of the entire society includes decent living, unpolluted water, clean air etc.

On behalf of the deprived and needy people, courts permitted lawyers, social organizations, and proactive citizens to file petitions in the court. Hence, courts in India were of the opinion that wherever such rights are violated the citizens who are part of the society must have the right to seek justice from the courts.

Usually in normal circumstances, as per law, only people who have been aggrieved were allowed to approach the courts. 
It means a person could only move the court of law if the person is involved in a dispute, if the person’s right has been violated.
Around 1979, this concept started changing. The court set a new trend in 1979, when it took a decision to hear a case which was filed by people on behalf of aggrieved persons. As this case was filed on the basis of public interest, this case and other cases came to be popularly known as Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

During the same time period, the case about prisoners rights was also taken up by the Supreme Court. This opened the floodgates to a huge number of cases where voluntary organizations, spirited citizens started seeking justice through courts to give better life conditions for the poor, and protect the existing rights, environment protection, and lots of diverse issues which are in the interest of the public. Hence Public Interest Litigation (PIL) turned out to be the most important instrument of judicial activism.

Sample Questions

Question 1: How many types of PIL are there?


There are two types of PIL:

  • Representative Social Action
  • Citizen Social Action

Question 2: What are the disadvantages of PIL?


  • First and foremost is the rampant misuse of the instrument by the person litigating in public interests.
  • Secondly, the huge use of PIL has resulted in large cases being filed, which add to the already existing number of cases.
  • Third, the orders of the court is not easily enforceable, taking time and repeated approach to court for successive direction.
Last Updated : 04 Jul, 2022
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