Public Interest Litigation- The Beginning
The term ‘Public Interest Litigation’ (PIL) means the litigation which is beneficial to general public. It means action necessarily taken for public purpose. The Supreme Court of India in Janata Dal v. H.S. Chowdharv, observed that lexically the expression public interest litigation means a legal action initiated in a Court of law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest in which the public or a class of the community have pecuniary interest or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected.
The word “Litigation” means legal action initiated in a Court of law with the purpose of enforcing right or seeking remedy. Therefore, the term public interest litigation means a legal action initiated in a Court of law for the enforcement of public interest in which the public or a class of the community have pecuniary interest or some interest by which their legal rights or liberties are affected.
The concept of public interest litigation had its origin in the American legal system during the period of 1960’s. The Council for Public Interest Law set up by the Ford Foundation in the United States of America stated that Public Interest Law is the name, which was able to provide legal representation to previously unrepresented groups. Such efforts had been undertaken in recognition that the ordinary market place for legal services failed to provide such services to significant segments of the population and to significant interests. Such groups and interests include the poor, environmentalists, consumer, racial and ethnic minorities and others.