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8 Indian J.L. & Just. 98 (2017)
Public Interest Litigation: Meaning and Dimensions

handle is hein.journals/ijlj8 and id is 322 raw text is: 









                PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION:
                   MEANING AND DIMENSIONS
                                                Dr. Sujit Kumar Biswas


I. Introduction
        Under the Indian legal system, the concept of Public Interest
Litigation has been said to have been borrowed from the American system
                      2
of Public Interest Law. However, in U.S.A. it has been invoked largely for
the purpose of improving the life conditions of the Blacks and ensuring
human rights to them. It was initiated for the benefit of a class of people,
who had been denied their constitutional and legal rights because they were
unable to have access to the Courts on account of their socio-economic
disabilities. The main reason for the growth of Public Interest Law in U.S.A.
was the failure of administrative agencies to protect public interest. In India,
the concept of Public Interest Litigation was invoked to represent genuine
cases of downtrodden masses of our society before the court. It is essentially
a social action covering a variety of rights and is wider than as used in
U.S.A.3 The passage of time has infused changes in its working, especially
in the common law based systems. The moulding of the concept of Public
Interest Litigation as a weapon of social dynamics has been used by the
judiciary in India after the emergency.
        Public Interest Litigation has been called a very useful tool, having
great educative value and improving future decision-making.4 As observed
by Justice P.N.Bhagwati-
        The judiciary has to play a vital and important role not only
        in preventing and remedying abuse and misuse of power but
        also in eliminating exploitation and injustice. For this

   Assistant Professor, Department of Law, University of North Bengal, Raja
   Rammohunpur-734013, District Darjeeling, West Bengal
2 Opinion expressed by Rajeev Dhavan, Law as Struggle: Public Interest Law in
   India, 36:3 JILI (1994) Page 302: P.M. Bakshi, Public Interest Litigation, p. 4
   (2 d Edition 2004): S.K. Sarkar, Public Interest Litigations and Public
   Nuisances, p. 13 (1st Edition 2002).
   There is also a view that the idea came from actio popularis of the Roman
   jurisprudence which allowed court access to every citizen in matters of public
   wrongs- Dr. I.P.Massey, Administrative Law, p. 277 (4th Edition 1995)
3 It is a socio-economic movement by the judiciary and one of the strategies to
   impart legal services to the poor. Unlike Public Interest Litigation in U.S.A. and
   Canada, Public Interest Litigation in India was initiated by the judiciary.
4 Justice J.S.Verma, The Constitutional Obligation of the Judiciary, (1997) 7 SCC
   (Journal) 1

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