How to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

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A Public Interest Litigation is the power given to the public by the court. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) can be filed in any High Court or directly in the Supreme Court.. A PIL can be filed in the courts for any matters of public interest ranging from polluted environments to road safety or constructional hazards.

Pre – Process requirements:

1. Make an informed decision to file a case.

2. Consult all affected interest groups.

3. Be careful in filing a case because

  • Litigation can be expensive and time consuming.
  • Litigation can take away decision making capability/strength from communities.
  • An adverse decision can affect the strength of the cause.
  • Litigation involvement can divert the attention of the community away from the real issue.

4. If you have taken the decision

  • Collect all the relevant information
  • Be meticulous in gathering detail that would be helpful to you in the case. If you plan on using photographs, retain the negatives and take an affidavit from the photographer. Retain bills.
  • Write to the relevant authorities and be clear about your demands.
  • Maintain records in an organized fashion.
  • Consult a lawyer on the choice of forum.
  • Engage a competent lawyer. If you are handling the matter yourself make sure you get good legal advice on the drafting.
  • You may have to issue a legal notice to the concerned parties/authorities before filing a PIL. Filing a suit against the government would require issuing a notice to the concerned officer department at least two months prior to filing.

5. If you are filing PIL in High Court, then two copies of the petition have to be filed. Also, an advance copy of the petition has to be given to the opposing party.

6. If you are filing a PIL in the Supreme Court, then five sets of petition have to be filed. The opposite party is served the copy only when notice is issued.

7. A PIL may be filed like a written petition or like any other case in the court.

8. The judge may appoint a commissioner, to inspect allegations, in the middle of the case.

9. After filing of replies, by opposite party, and rejoinder by the petitioner, final hearing takes place, and the judge gives his final decision.

Documentation required:

For filing any PIL it is advisable to carry the following documents for proof -

  • Photographs with affidavit of the photographer
  • Bills
  • Copies of the petition

Department / Organisation:

High Court, Supreme Court

Contact person:

Addressed to the court within the respective jurisdiction 


Respective court within whose jurisdiction the concerned subject matter falls 

Do remember: A PIL can be filed by any public spirited person or on behalf of a group of persons.
Disclaimer: * This information is subject to periodic government policy / process change. Kindly contact the concerned department to crosscheck for recent updates, if any.

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