Judicial Activism and Public Interest Litigation in India and Issues Involved

  • Kowshika M. and Jessy K. Jayanth
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  • Kowshika M.

    Student at Saveetha School of Law, India

  • Jessy K. Jayanth

    Assistant Professor at Saveetha School of Law, India

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The term "Public Interest" refers to the broader concerns of the general public, encompassing the welfare and interests of the masses. On the other hand, "Litigation" denotes legal proceedings, inclusive of all actions taken in a court of law aimed at enforcing a right or seeking redress. Consequently, the phrase ‘Public Interest Litigation’ conveys the notion of legal action undertaken for the betterment of the public or the resolution of public grievances. Essentially, public interest litigation allows any concerned citizen to petition the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution, the High Court under Article 226, or the Court of Magistrate under Section 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for the advancement of public welfare. The roots of public interest litigation in India can be traced back to Krishna Iyer J.'s landmark decision in the Mumbai Kamgar Sabha v. Abdul Thai case of 1976, where an unregistered workers' association was permitted to file a writ petition under Article 32 to address common grievances. Subsequently, in Fertilizer Corporation Kamgar Union v. Union of India, Krishna Iyer J. advocated for a more liberal interpretation of the rule of Locus Standi, paving the way for the emergence of 'Public Interest Litigation', which reached its zenith in the S.P. Gupta and others v. Union of India case. The term ‘Judicial Activism’ denotes the courts' eagerness to provide suitable remedies to the aggrieved parties by formulating new rules, especially in cases of legal uncertainty or lawlessness. Judicial Activism in India is exemplified by the Supreme Court's review power under Article 32 and High Courts' powers under Article 226, particularly in Public Interest Litigation cases. When existing rules fail to address specific cases adequately, the courts have taken the initiative to establish new guidelines, a process referred to as 'Judicial Activism'. This study explores the relationship between PIL and Judicial Activism, and the emergence of PIL in India. A convenient sampling method was utilised, collecting data from 200 samples. The independent variables considered were age, gender, education, and occupation. The study reveals that while English laws share similarities with Indian laws, English legal principles have evolved to address the gaps exposed by PIL and Judicial Activism. This paper examines the challenges faced by developing countries like India due to the potential misuse of PIL and Judicial Activism.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 1, Page 1142 - 1153

DOI: https://doij.org/10.10000/IJLMH.116834

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