1) Introduction -
The traditional rule is that a person whose constitutional or legal right is infringed can apply for relief under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.
But the Supreme Court has now considerably liberalized the above rule of Locus Standi. The Court now permits the public-spirited persons to file a writ petition for the enforcement of constitutional and statutory rights of any other person or class, form if that person or class is unable to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court due to poverty or any social economic disability.
2) Article 32 and Article 226 -
Article 226 of the Indian Constitution is wider in scope than Article 32. Under article 226, the aggrieved party can approach the High Court for violation of not just their fundamental rights but also legal rights. However, under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, a person can approach the Supreme court only for Violation of Fundamental Rights.
3) The Concept of Locus Standi - Who can Apply under Article 32
In legal parlance, Locus Standi means the right or capacity or standing to bring a legal action. The question in Article 32 is whether party filing for an action before the Court has the entitlement to do so. Does he have to be the one who suffered legal injury, to be able to seek remedy under Article 32? This issue has been given a wide connotation by the Court.
4) Public Interest Litigation: Scope of Locus Standi widened
Now, a public-spirited person can avail this provision on behalf of socially or economically disadvantaged persons, if such persons are unable to defend themselves.
In case of public interest litigation, the strict rule of Locus Standi applicable to private litigation in relaxed and a broad rule is evolved by the Courts in Modern Times. The right of Locus Standi can be given to any member of the public acting bonafide and having sufficient interest in instituting an action for redressal of public wrong or public injury, but who is not mere busybody or a meddlesome interloper: Since the dominant object of Interest Litigation is to ensure all observance of the provisions of the Constitution or the law which can be best achieved to advance cause of community or disadvantaged groups and individuals or Public Interest by permitting any person, having no personal gain or private motivation or any other oblique consideration but acting bonafide and having any sufficient interest in maintaining an action or judicial redress for public injury to put the judicial machinery in motion like actio popularis of Roman law whereby any citizen could bring such an action in respect of public delict.
5) Relevant Cases
In this case, the Court held that the Public Interest Litigation is not adversary litigation but a challenge and opportunity to the Government and its officers to make basic Human Rights meaningful to the deprived and vulnerable sections of the society. The court is thus assistant them in the realization of the constitutional objectives. The court has the power under article 32 to appoint a Commission for making inquiry concerning the violation of human rights.
See this case in detail here >>>>> Bandhu Mukti Morcha Vs Union of India AIR 1984 SC 802, Justice P.N. Bhagwati.
ii) Akhil Bhartiya Soshit Karmachari Sangh Vs. Union of India (AIR 1981 SC 298)
In this ca, e the Supreme Court held that the Akhil Bhartiya Soshit Karmachari Sangh (Railway) through an unregistered association, could maintain a writ-petition under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution for the redressal of a common grievance. Access to justice through 'class action', 'Public Interest Litigation' and 'Representative Proceeding', is the present Constitutional jurisprudence, Krishna Iyer, J declared.
Difference between Public Interest Litigation and Representative Suit
Difference between Public Interest Litigation and Private Interest Litigation
Main Characteristics of Public Interest Litigation (PIL)