Collaborative and Investigative Litigation, Relaxation of Strict Rule of Locus Standi

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Collaborative Litigation

In collaborative litigation the effort is from all the sides. The claimant, the court and the Government or the public official, all are in collaboration here to see that basic human rights become meaningful for the large masses of the people. PIL helps executive to discharge its constitutional obligations. Court assumes three different functions other than that from traditional determination and issuance of a decree.

  • Ombudsman- The court receives citizen complaints and brings the most important ones to the attention of responsible government officials.

  • Forum – The court provides a forum or place to discuss the public issues at length and providing emergency relief through interim orders.

  • Mediator – The court comes up with possible compromises.

Investigative Litigation

Investigative Litigation: It is investigative litigation because it works on the reports of the Registrar, District Magistrate, comments of experts, newspapers etc.

Crucial Aspects

The flexibility introduced in the adherence to procedural laws. In Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra v. State of U.P.,(1985) 2 SCC 431, court rejected the Defense of Res Judicate. Court refused to withdraw the PIL and ordered compensation too. In R.C. Narain v. State of Bihar, court legislated the rules for the welfare of the persons living in the mental asylum. To curtail custodial violence, Supreme Court in Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra, issued certain guidelines. Supreme Court has broadened the meaning of Right to live with human dignity available under the Article 21 of the Constitution of India to a greatest extent possible.

Relaxation of Strict Rule of Locus Standi

The strict rule of locus standi has been relaxed by way of

  • Representative standing,

  • Citizen standing. In D.C.Wadhwa v. State of Bihar, AIR 1987 SC 579, S.C. held that a petitioner, a professor of political science who had done substantial research and deeply interested in ensuring proper implementation of the constitutional provisions, challenged the practice followed by the state of Bihar in promulgating a number of ordinances without getting the approval of the legislature. The court held that the petitioner as a member of public has ‘sufficient interest’ to maintain a petition under Article 32.

  • The rule of locus standi have been relaxed and a person acting Bonafide and having sufficient interest in the proceeding of Public Interest Litigation will alone have a locus standi and can approach the court to wipe out violation of fundamental rights and genuine infraction of statutory provisions, but not for personal gain or private profit or political motive or any oblique consideration…court has to strike balance between two conflicting interests:

    • nobody should be allowed to indulge in wild and reckless allegations besmirching the character of others

    • avoidance of public mischief and to avoid mischievous petitions seeking to assail, for oblique motives, justifiable executive and the legislature (Ashok Kumar Pandey v. State of W. B., (2004) 3 SCC 349).

  • It is depressing to note that on account of trumpery proceedings initiated before the courts, innumerable days are wasted, which time otherwise could have been spent for the disposal of cases of genuine litigants. Though the Supreme Court spares no efforts in fostering and developing the laudable concept of PIL and extending its ling arm of sympathy to the poor, ignorant, the oppressed and the needy whose fundamental rights are infringed and violated and whose grievances go unnoticed, unrepresented and unheard (Ashok Kumar Pandey v. State of W. B., (2004) 3 SCC 349).

Epistolary Jurisdiction

The judicial activism gets its highest bonus when its orders wipe some tears from some eyes. This jurisdiction is somehow different from collective action. Number of PIL cells was open all over India for providing the footing or at least platform to the needy class of the society.

Features of PIL

Through the mechanism of PIL, the courts seek to protect human rights in the following ways:

  • By creating a new regime of human rights by expanding the meaning of fundamental right to equality, life and personal liberty. In this process, the right to speedy trial, free legal aid, dignity, means and livelihood, education, housing, medical care, clean environment, right against torture, sexual harassment, solitary confinement, bondage and servitude, exploitation and so on emerge as human rights. These new reconceptualised rights provide legal resources to activate the courts for their enforcement through PIL.

  • By democratization of access to justice. This is done by relaxing the traditional rule of locus standi. Any public-spirited citizen or social action group can approach the court on behalf of the oppressed classes. Courts attention can be drawn even by writing a letter or sending a telegram. This has been called epistolary jurisdiction.

  • By fashioning new kinds of reliefs under the court’s writ jurisdiction. For example, the court can award interim compensation to the victims of governmental lawlessness. This stands in sharp contrast to the Anglo-Saxon model of adjudication where interim relief is limited to preserving the status quo pending final decision. The grant of compensation in PIL matters does not preclude the aggrieved person from bringing a civil suit for damages. In PIL cases the court can fashion any relief to the victims.

  • By judicial monitoring of State institutions such as jails, women’s protective homes, juvenile homes, mental asylums, and the like. Through judicial invigilation, the court seeks gradual improvement in their management and administration. This has been characterized as creeping jurisdiction in which the court takes over the administration of these institutions for protecting human rights.

  • By devising new techniques of fact-finding. In most of the cases the court has appointed its own socio-legal commissions of inquiry or has deputed its own official for investigation. Sometimes it has taken the help of National Human Rights Commission or Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or experts to inquire into human rights violations. This may be called investigative litigation.