Man for the masses

Man for the masses


According to Black Law Dictionary, “Public Interest Litigation means legal action initiated in a court of law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest in which the public or class of the community have interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected.”

The post-Emergency era marked a new beginning for not only the political world but also the judicial world.

In an attempt to refurbish its image that had been tarnished by some Emergency decisions, the Supreme Court of India opened the floodgates to Public Interest Litigation (PIL). 

Litigations help highlight the woes of the public in general. The public at large cannot protect their own interest because of the high costs of litigation. Public Interest Litigation’s explicit purpose is to alienate the suffering of those who have borne the brunt of insensitive treatment. 

Transparency in public life and fair judicial action are the answer to check the increasing menace of violation of legal rights. The traditional rule allowed only those who have been stripped off their fundamental rights, access to the  Supreme Court.

Furthermore, if an individual is concerned about the bad state of roads, lack of civic amenities, lack of policing, etc., he/she cannot pursue the matter on his or her own, as the matter involved the general public.

To protect not only his/her interest but also the general public’s, public interest litigation is the only answer. In public interest litigation, the cause of society assumes importance and not individual interests alone, although the PIL involves merger of interests of individuals. PIL offers you a wide scope of litigations to be fought over as interests are not restricted to an individual alone. Many times over, PILs have helped the general public in the preservation of forests, parks, etc. PILs cannot be instituted to meet one’s selfish needs unless and until such needs merge with the needs of the general public as well. 

To get into the stream of Public Interest Lawyering, one requires to have secured a law degree in a recognised law institution. Law institutions have a separate subject for Public Interest Lawyering, where  students are taught through simulation exercises and programmes such as Lok Adalat,Legal Aid Camp and Para Legal Training.

The advantages of choosing Public Interest Litigation as a career option is that one gets the opportunity to express one’s political and social interests professionally as well as personally and possible opportunities of client contacts and community organisations. Public Interest lawyers get firsthand experience at a much earlier stage in their career life than most private sector lawyers. Another advantage of working in this area is that the work atmosphere is more casual and less hierarchical than in the private sector.

Students with a service-oriented bent of mind can get into this  arena. Although Public Interest Litigation is an endless subject, it also happens to be a very dynamic and competent field, and therefore a sought after career option.