Boon or menace?

Public interest litigations come under a cloud once again as the Prime Minister questions their viability

Published: Sunday 15 June 1997

Prime Minister I K Gujral has voiced his concern on the growing misuse of public interest litigations (PIL). Speaking to the press on May 10, he expressed the need to initiate a debate on whether the current phenomenon of filing PILs have gone out of hand. He said, -Some remedies are more dangerous than the disease." His contention is that while the concern for fighting corruption is justifiable, rationality demands that one should not create "institutions which can be super-judicial bodies". He said, "We should not reach a stage where the government is run by the courts and not by the people."

Earlier, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda had also made a similar statement during a chief ministers' and power ministers' meet in mid-October 1996; he had said, "Whether they are public interest litigations or political interest litigations. I don't know" (Down To Earth, Vol 5, No 20).

In the course of hearing a petition filed by Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy on April 28, a Supreme Court bench had also warned against the misuse of PlLs by moving different courts on an issue which was already pending before it.

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