“Don’t forget the cause ” By Devil’s Advocate

There is common joke in the courts that most advocates win cases on the basis of face law than case laws. At times it could work in favour of the advocate but on many occasions it could against him also.

We have seen another trend in the courts dealing with public interest litigations. Many a time the courts have rejected PILs while questioning the credibility of the petitioner himself. While I am not trying to suggest that there are no motivated PILs, I would also like to make clear that although some PILs are motivated or filed for personal gains, courts ought to bear in mind that the cause is above anything.

It is heartening to learn that the Supreme Court of India has taken note of this aspect and stated in clear terms that in PIL’s the cause is more important that the credibility of the litigant.

Here are some observations by the Supreme Court which dealt with a similar issue.
“In public interest litigation (PIL), even if the bonafides of the litigants are suspect, the courts may still examine the issue on hand after considering the seriousness of the public cause by appointing an amicus curiae.”


“In an exceptional case, where the bonafides of the petitioners are questionable, courts may take the assistance of an amicus curiae, but under no circumstances can the assistance of the doubtful petitioner be sought.”


“For the last few years, the inflow of PIL’s has increased manifold. Considerable judicial time is spent in dealing with such cases. A person acting bonafide alone can approach the court in public interest. Such a remedy is not open to an unscrupulous person who acts, in fact, for someone else. The liberal rule of locus standi exercised in favour of a bona fide PIL has immensely helped the cause of justice. Such litigants have drawn the attention of the court.”


“Courts should not allow its process to be abused by a mere busybody, a meddlesome interloper, wayfarer or officious intervener without any concern, except for private gain or private profit. PIL is a weapon to be used with great care. The judiciary has to be careful to see that behind the veil of public interest, an ugly private malice is not lurking. Public Interest should not be used for suspicious products of mischief. The process of law should not be abused for oblique considerations by masked phantoms.”



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