Empowering Citizens: Public Interest Litigation in India.

  Oct 18, 2023

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India: An In-depth Analysis

What is PIL?

Definition: Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a legal procedure that allows a person to file a case in a court of law for the public good.

When Was It Introduced?

Timeline:PIL started gaining prominence in India during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was pioneered by Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer.

Benefits of PIL

Access to Justice: Enables marginalized communities to seek justice.

Social Reforms: Drives legislative and administrative change.

Transparency: Holds government agencies accountable.

Downsides of PIL

Misuse: Often misused for personal or political gains.

Overburden: Increases the workload on judiciary.

Policy Interference: Risks judicial overreach into legislative or executive domains.

Court Response to PIL

Courts usually welcome PILs but have recently started imposing fines for frivolous PILs to deter misuse.

Current Case: Rs.5 Lakh Fine for Frivolous PIL

Case Summary: The Supreme Court imposed a Rs.5 lakh fine on a petitioner for a frivolous PIL about the Bombay High Court Chief Justice's oath-taking process.

Court's Stand: The court ordered the fine to prevent wastage of judicial resources and set an example for future frivolous PILs.

Key Points for Civil Services Exam

Understanding the evolution, benefits, and downsides of PIL is essential for a nuanced understanding of the judicial system in India.

Awareness of recent court responses to PILs helps in grasping the challenges and reforms in the judiciary.

Understanding the Rs.5 Lakh Fine for Frivolous PIL: A Closer Look


The Supreme Court recently imposed a Rs.5 lakh fine on a petitioner for filing a "frivolous" Public Interest Litigation (PIL). The petitioner had questioned the oath-taking procedure of the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.

What Constitutes a 'Frivolous' PIL?

A 'frivolous' PIL is one that lacks merit and is considered to waste the court's time and resources. In this specific case, the plea concerned a trivial issue about the omission of the word 'I' during the oath-taking ceremony.

Why Such a Hefty Fine?

Deterrence: A substantial financial penalty is expected to deter the misuse of PILs.

Preservation of Resources: Courts want to discourage petitions that waste judicial time, thereby preserving resources for more deserving cases.

Setting Precedents: The hefty fine sends a strong message to potential litigants to refrain from filing frivolous cases.

Key Points for Civil Services Exam

Understand what constitutes a frivolous PIL and how courts are taking steps to mitigate this.

Be aware of how judicial resources are impacted by such cases and what mechanisms are in place for deterrence.

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