Public Interest Litigation (PIL) simply means- litigation for the protection of the public interest. PIL petition can be filed in a court of law by any person or any organization acting on behalf of a victim when public interest is involved.
It is not necessary that the victim personally files his case in case of violation of his rights or for the protection of his rights. But, the person or any other party filing the petition must prove to the satisfaction of the court that the petition is being filed for the public interest and not as a frivolous litigation for any private/personal/monetary/any other gain.
Due care must be taken care before filing PIL petition ,as It can turn out to be very expensive, can take much time, and can result in unexpected outcomes.
According to a study by social scientist Hans Dembowski, PIL has been successful in making official authorities accountable to NGOs and NGOs have occupied an important role in the area of protecting the public interest.
Areas where a PIL can normally be filed are:
Protection of basic human rights of the poor person, performance of public duties by local government, implementation of government policy, protection of religious rights of a person or a group, protection of fundamental rights of a person or a group.
There have been numerous examples of cases registered under PIL on various issues of public interest like: sexual harassment of women at a work place, imposing a ban on bursting crackers, child labor and bonded labor, neglected children, police protection to some person, maintenance of roads and street lights in a particular locality, problem of pollution created by a particular factory etc.
Public Interest Litigation petition can be filed in High court or Supreme Court depending on the number of people affected by the issue under consideration.
Procedure of filing PIL petition must, however, be followed properly.