How to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)?

This article is written by Shaily Garg, a Fourth year B.Com. LLB (Hons.) Student of University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh.

file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)
How to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)?

What is PIL?

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a channel through which public issues involving minority or disadvantaged groups or individuals are raised through litigation or legal proceedings. In simple words, Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is the result of judicial activism through which a private or a non-governmental organization or civic group can seek justice in court on issues involving large public interests.

Who can File PIL?

Any Indian Citizen can file a PIL, the sole condition being that it should be filed within the public interest instead of private interest. It is not necessary that the aggrieved person can only file a PIL, any person on his behalf can also file a PIL.

What matters can be entertained under PIL?

  • Matters related to bonded labour.
  • Matters related to neglected children.
  • Non-payment of minimum wages to workers.
  • Petition against police for not filing the case, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, etc.
  • Atrocities on a woman.
  • Environmental pollution and disturbance of ecological balance, maintenance of heritage and culture, etc.
  • Food adulteration

Where PIL can be filed?

  • It can be filed directly in the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution.
  • It can be filed directly in the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.
  • It can be filed in the Court of Magistrate under Section 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Against whom PIL can be filed?

A Public Interest Litigation can be filed against a State Government, Central Government, Municipal Authorities, or any Public Authority.

Which writs can be issued under PIL?

  1. Writ of Mandamus can be issued against inaction, inactivity of the State, or any statutory body or any government body in any manner.
  2. Writ of Certiorari can be issued for quashing of any judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings or any other irregular proceedings being conducted by any wing of the State.
  3. Writ of Prohibition can be issued against any wing of State or any statutory body if it is exercising its powers beyond its jurisdiction i.e. beyond the legal powers vested in it.
  4. Writ of Quo Warranto can be issued against any wing of State or any Statutory body if it does not enjoy the legal authority to act, or his appointment to the post is illegal or is irregular.
  5. Writ of Habeas Corpus can be issued for producing the body of a missing person. This is the only writ that can be issued by a private body or individual also.

What documents are required to be enclosed with a PIL?

  1. Affidavit of the Petitioner
  2. Annexure, as referred to the Writ Petitioner, with court fees of Rs. 2/- per annexure, is to be filed.
  3. 1+5 copies of the Writ petition duly bound to be filed in case of Supreme Court and 1+2 copies of the Writ Petition in case of High Court.
  4. A court fee of Rs. 50/- per petition for civil matters, for criminal matters, no fees are required.
  5. Index of the papers.
  6. Cover page
  7. Application for interim relief, stay exemption, etc.
  8. Memo of appearance, Rs 5/- Court fee.

How to file a PIL?

  1. First, check about the subject matter on which one is planning to file a PIL. Then collect all information i.e. documents and photographs of affected interest and the groups affected/affecting and make a rigid decision to file a case. The person planning to file a PIL should also read all the details of the provisions of the law and the violations of the law if any being done by the State or any statutory body. PIL can only be filed based on existing legal rights or violation of the legal right by the Government.
  2. File a case as a writ petition carefully because it is expensive and time-consuming. The format of PIL is given on the official site of the High Courts and Supreme Court.
  3. Consult a lawyer for drafting and if you are doing it yourself then it is advisable to take the assistance or services of a trained legal hand for the purpose.
  4. Write to relevant authorities and maintain records in the organized form so that you can be clear about your demand.
  5. Collect all the relevant materials, press reporting, documents, bills, statistics, facts, etc. in this regard and arrange them chronologically.
  6. The petition should be addressed to the court within the respective jurisdiction. Copies of the Writ petition to be filed and a separate copy of the petition should be given to the opposite party in advance. Also, a notice to be issued to the respective opposite parties.
  7. With a court fee of Rs. 50, per respondent (i.e. for each number of opposite parties, the court fee of Rs. 50/-) must be affixed on the petition.
  8. File a PIL in the Court before the registry of Court and get the matter listed before the court after due scrutiny. The matter is thereafter listed before the Court of hearing and orders accordingly.
  9. After getting replies from the opposite party and rejoinder by the petitioner, the final hearing takes place and the judge gives his final decision. The judge may appoint a commissioner to probe into allegations in between of the case.
What is PIL
What is PIL


PIL is playing an important role in social change, and an important tool in judicial review. A person can file a petition whose public interest is affected at large. At present, only judges have the power to dismiss the petition. The Registry of the Supreme Court and the High Court only ensures that the technical requirements of filing the petition are fulfilled.