PIL can be decided despite petitioner's death: SC

Courts can issue notice through media inviting people to take up the case

 A Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma said here that if the matter was already pending and the courts found that the relief could an granted in the matter then they could proceed as if they were acting after taking suo moto cognisance of the matter.

“As soon as the information is received that a sole petitioner to the writ petition in the nature of a PIL filed pro bono publico, is dead, the Court can issue a notice through newspapers or electronic media inviting public spirited bodies or persons to file applications to take up the position of the petitioner. If such an application is filed, the court can examine the antecedents of the person so applying and find out if allowing him to be impleaded as petitioner could meet the ends of justice,” the Court said. In case the matter was already pending and the court was of the opinion that the relief sought by petitioner could be granted in the PIL without having to take recourse to “adversarial- style of proceedings” then it could proceed further as if it had taken suo moto cognisance of the matter, the Bench added.

The apex court further said the courts hearing such PILs could still examine and explore the possibility of making a non-contesting respondents of the writ petition as petitioner. The courts, in a suitable case, could ask any lawyer or any other individual or an organisation to assist the court in place of the person who had earlier filed the petition, the apex court stated.

Legal experts speaking on the concept of PIL say that it was introduced in Indian Legal system to help a person or a class of persons whose legal and Constitutional rights are violated owing to their disadvantaged position such as poverty, exploitation, socially and economic backwardness and other forms of disablement etc.

 In such a scenario, a person or the society could espouse a common grievance by filing a petition and invoking the writ jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 32 of the Constitution in the High Court and the Supreme Court respectively for redressal of the problem, they pointed out.

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