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5 Iconic PIL Cases Which Changed the System in India

PIL through years have achieved great importance in our legal system

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SOme of the most iconic PIL have changed the course of judiciary or political systems in India. Pixabay
SOme of the most iconic PIL have changed the course of judiciary or political systems in India. Pixabay
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By Ruchika Verma

  • Public Interest Litigation or PIL are filed for public interest
  • With time, PIL has become one of the most important parts of Indian judiciary system
  • There have been several iconic PILs in India which has made Indians grateful for their existence

Public interest litigation or PIL is a litigation filed for any concern of public interest. Public interest litigation can be filed in any court of law by any person for the protection of public interest.

PILs have become very important for Indian Judiciary System. Wikimedia Commons
PILs have become very important for Indian Judiciary System. Wikimedia Commons

PIL through years has achieved great importance in our legal system. India’s the first PIL was filed  1976, the case was Mumbai Kamgar Sabha vs M/s Abdulbhai Faizullabhai and others. After this landmark PIL, the whole concept evolved and now has become a very important part of Indian judiciary system.

Here is the list of 5 most iconic PILs which changed the face of Indian judiciary system:

Vishaka vs the State of Rajasthan

Bhanwari Devi, a social worker, was gang-raped in a village in Rajasthan in 1992. The gang rape was a result of her trying to discourage a family’s efforts of marrying their one year daughter. She filed a complaint with police and many NGOs came out in her support. Despite several efforts, when no justice was served to her, a PIL was filed.

Also Read: Website to educate Women about their Legal Rights launched in India

The PIL in Supreme Court was filed by Naina Kapur in 1992. She was a lawyer who had attended Bhanwari Devi’s criminal trials. Her decision to file a PIL  in Supreme Court challenged the sexual harassment in the workplace. It was filed against the State of Rajasthan, its Women & Child Welfare Department, Department of Social Welfare, and the Union of India.

PILs have been used to change legal system in India since a very long time.
PILs have been used to change legal system in India for a very long time.

The judgement later came to be known as Vishakha judgement and it recognized sexual harassment as a criminal offence. Many important guidelines were then released and many women’s rights also saw the light of the day after this judgement. It was definitely one of the most iconic PILs ever filed.

Javed vs the State of Haryana

This was another landmark PIL which changed India. As per, Haryana Provision “a person having more than two living children” was disqualified from holding any offices in the panchayats.The objective as to promote family planning.

The petitioners and appellants in the Javed case were those individuals who had been disqualified holding an office in panchayat because they had more than two children.

The court upheld the Haryana Provision, calling it a provision which was in public interest. The PIL indirectly promoted family planning in India, though the judgement definitely didn’t do anything to critically evaluate it.

PILs are filed to bring out the issues of public interest.
PILs are filed to bring out the issues of public interest.

Parmanand Katara vs Union of India

Parmanand Katara who was a human rights activist filed a PIL in the Supreme Court. He filed this landmark PIL because of the irresponsible hospitals and staffs who do not use to handle medico-legal cases immediately. This PIL results in the judgement which imposed that: Preservation of human life should be of utmost importance; Every doctor, be it in a public hospital or private, has the professional obligation to protect lives first. The first priority should always be saving lives and it is binding not only on doctors but also citizens, police and everyone else.

M.C. Mehta vs Union of India

Another one of the most iconic PILs ever filed in India, this was against the authorities which allowed untreated sewage from Kanpur’s industries to make its way into the river Ganga.

This PIL filed by MC Mehta resulted in three judgments and a number of orders against more than 50,000 polluting industries which were harming the river, Ganga.

Most PILs are against state governments and their policies. Wikimedia Commons
Most PILs are against state governments and their policies. Wikimedia Commons

This PIL became the basis for the court to close down several tanneries and industries to protect the environment, specifically, the river Ganga.

Hussainara Khatoon vs the State of Bihar

Many people also regard this as the first PIL in India. This case was about the situation of people under-trial in Bihar. It was about those convicts who were in detention pending trial for periods far more than the maximum sentence period for their offences.

Also Read: Himachal Pradesh State Legal Services Authority (HPSLSA) deploys Paralegals as Volunteers to help in Currency Exchange from Banks 

This PIL resulted in Court not only making the ‘right to speedy trials’ a central issue, but also passed orders facilitating it. It also passes orders to free the 40,000 people under-trials who had undergone detention beyond the maximum period for their offences.

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How Are Restaurants Operating Without Permit? Asks High Court: 19 Hauz Khas Village Eateries in Delhi Lose Licence

Restaurants in HKV lack security and fire safety mechanisms. Delhi High Court has thus ordered probe to answer how these establishments have been running without permit.

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Hauz khas village
The Delhi High Court believes unlawful construction of restaurants in HKV is a very serious issue, involving “valuable rights of the people". Wikimedia
  • Hauz Khas village has come under the scanner of the Delhi High Court for ‘unlawful existence’ and operation of restaurants without obtaining mandatory permits
  • According to PILs, restaurants cramp the narrow lanes of HKV without proper security and fire safety mechanisms in place
  • Licenses of 19 restaurants have been revoked by the SDMC 

New Delhi, August 23, 2017: With the wave of pop-culture that has come up in Delhi in the last few years, Hauz Khas village in south Delhi has emerged as the hub of ‘alternate culture’. While the ‘village’ remains comfortably filled during the weekdays, it gets crowded beyond measure over the weekends. There are usually long queues of cars and people waiting to enter HKV (as it is popularly known) that is home to a number of state-of-the art cafes, eateries and designer boutiques.

Hauz Khas village is not only famous its enviable list of establishments, but also for the number of cases that have previously been filed against the popular hub.

Hauz Khaz vilage has previously been in news for the following reasons-

September 2013: 34 restaurants were shut down for four days upon orders from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for violating environmental flaws, following which they were conditionally allowed to operate on promise of upholding the laws.

August 2016: A ‘minor fire’ in the urban hub killed an Indian businessman and injured a French woman, bringing to light the poor safety standards and remedial mechanisms in the place.

[bctt tweet=” “Hauz Khas village in south Delhi has emerged as the hub of ‘alternate culture.”” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

February 2017: a 26-year old was allegedly sexually assaulted in the wee hours of the morning after a night of partying in HKV. A series of similar incidents have remained common to the area.

July 2017: The village came in news when the police decided to ban the Tuesday-Wednesday ladies’ night in the area to keep law and order in place and avoid possible cases of sexual assault or violence. While the ban was never imposed, security arrangements in the area were strengthened.

The cramped, neon-lit streets and cafes of this urbanized village have once again come under the radar of the Delhi High Court now for illegal constructions and encroachments.

Following the hearing of PILs alleging “unlawful existence” of eateries in the village, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar made an oral observation saying the court is to protect and upload “the life and personal liberty of every person in the city.”

The bench’s observation came following the hearing of petitions filed by social activist Pankaj Sharma and advocate Anuja Kapur.

According to the petition filed by Sharma, the village is a host to 120 eateries and pubs, most of which have been illegally constructed in the absence of an approval of their building plans from the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). Alternatively, the plea by advocate Anuja Kapur claims that these restaurants and bars are additionally violating the law as they continue to operate without a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the required authorities including the fire department.

ALSO READ: Why do buildings collapse?

Kapur in her plea to the High Court had also raised allegations against the police claiming that no officer can be spotted in the village which gives various business owners an opportunity to indulge in ‘illegal activities’, which she believes are done with support from the local police.

Hauz Khas village is a popular commercial hub in the city and has a footfall of around 5,000 during weekdays which escalates to over 15,000 during the weekends.

Thus, the petitioners had also raised objections towards the risks to security and fire hazard in the village and asserted that the cramped location jam-packed with enormous crowd furthers the threat by making it impossible for ambulances and fire trucks to enter the area in case of emergencies.

It was revealed before the bench on August 22 that there is only one entry and exit in the village to allow the movement of fire tending vehicles.

Fire chief GC Mishra in his interview to the Indian Express in early August had asserted that the place is very congested for a city that ranks at level 4 of earthquake risk. “There is complete disregard towards the stability of the structure. Also, the access road is very narrow. How do I take my vehicles there?” he had said.

Previously, the High Court in May had issued a notice to the Centre, Delhi government, Delhi Police and SDMC to ensure strict enforcement of the law in the village and provide the court with a detailed account of the exact number of restaurants operating illegally.

Responding to the Court’s order, the Corporation revealed that they have issued notices of closure to 19 restaurant owners who do not possess the obligatory clearances. According to the report, “Nine licenses (have been revoked) for running the restaurants with more than the permitted number of seats and 10 licenses for running their trade on roads that don’t meet norms.”

The bench said during the hearing that this is a very serious issue, involving “valuable rights of the people”, according to a report by PTI.

Following the PILs the bench has asked authorities to file a status report explaining how these enterprises are running without a permit.

The SDMC has been directed to supplement the court with a detailed site-plan of the village clearly stating the location of different properties sprawled across the village along with the permissible property usage of Delhi as explained in the master plan of the city.

The bench has also asked the petitioners and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to undertake detailed inspection of the place and inform the court about the width of the only road that runs through the area.

The bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar further asserted that any decision would be taken keeping the right of owners to undertake business activities, as guaranteed in the Indian Constitution, in mind.

However, the rights shall be considered “only if one has complied with the building bye-laws and the master plan. Violators will have to go,” the bench added.

The case is scheduled to have a further hearing on September 5.



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