PIL, a revolutionary concept in the Indian Judicial System that aims at ensuring justice to aggrieved parties whose legal rights have been violated, is not alien to any person even remotely associated with the field of law.

In 1981, Justice P. N. Bhagwati in .S. P. Gupta v. Union of India, explained PIL as, “Where a legal wrong or a legal injury is caused to a person or to a determinate class of persons by reason of violation of any constitutional or legal right or any burden is imposed in contravention of any constitutional or legal provision or without authority of law or any such legal wrong or legal injury or illegal burden is threatened and such person or determinate class of persons by reasons of poverty, helplessness or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position unable to approach the court for relief, any member of public can maintain an application for an appropriate direction, order or writ in the High Court under Article 226 and in case any breach of fundamental rights of such persons or determinate class of persons, in this court under Article 32 seeking judicial redress for the legal wrong or legal injury caused to such person or determinate class of persons.”

This legal measure was introduced with the objective of doing right by the wronged. Disappointingly enough, PILs can be seen somehow diverging from their core intention. Multiple frivolous PILs have been and are being filed In the courts. Ranging from the infamous petition filed that sought a ban on “Sardar jokes” claiming that it hurts the sentiments of the Sikh community to the one to bring back the Kohinoor diamond seized by the British during colonial rule to a recent one where the petitioner sought a new oath from Justice D.K. Upadhyay as the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court since he didn’t use ‘I’ while taking oath.

What’s even more surprising is that the first two PILs were even taken into consideration by past CJI T.S. Thakur, while in the third one, SC imposed a fine of ₹25,000 on the petitioner for filing such a ridiculous petition and wasting the court’s precious time.

Such PILs being filed in the garb of public interest are in reality ‘Publicity Interest Litigation’ or ‘Personal Interest Litigation’ as stated by the apex court while slamming irrelevant petitions filed in 2022. 

Ridiculous PILs, that are filed by publicity -hungry litigants or people with ulterior motives or a mala fide intention, such as in the case of Kalyaneshwari v. Union of India and others., waste the judiciary’s time and resources that could otherwise be used to deal with the substantial bulk of pending cases in courts.

Shallow petitions making their way into the docket divert attention from essential matters such as equality and social justice, environment conservation, etc., which should be at the forefront of PILs. The action of judges entertaining such frivolous requests also undermines the credibility of the judicial system by creating a perception that their focus lays on petty matters rather than the essential ones.

Everyone and advocates especially, must be wary of the fact that PIL is a tool to provide aid to people whose fundamental rights have been violated and who don’t have the required means to fight against that. They should act responsibly towards the society, and awareness should be raised on this matter.

It Is high time that the judiciary plans to attain a balance in the judicial process and ensure to scrutinize the petitions filed before it. They should also be considerate in not stepping over their domain and work towards preventing abuse of legal process.

Justice S.P. Barucha has very rightly pointed out the delicateness of this matter as: “This court must refrain from passing orders that cannot be enforced, whatever the fundamental right may be and however good the cause. It serves no purpose to issue some high profile mandamus or declaration that can remain only on paper. It is of cardinal importance to the confidence that people have in the Court that its orders are implicitly and promptly obeyed.” In a nutshell, the spirit with which PIL was initiated must not be extinguished, and it should be used judiciously in the public interest.


1. S.P. Gupta v UOI, AIR 1982 SC 149

2. Kalyaneshwari v UOI & ors.(2011), 3 SCC 287

3. S.P. Bharucha, “Public Interest Litigation” (Lecture, Supreme Court Bar Association’s Golden Jubilee’s Lecture Series, Supreme Court, 2001)

Author:- Shivangi Agarwal , a Student of Galgotias University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *