Tag Archives: Private Interest

Public Interest – Interpretation of

The notion of public interest synonymises collective welfare of the people and the public institutions and is generally informed with the dictates of public trust doctrine – res communis, i.e., by everyone in common. Perceptionally health, law and order, peace, security and a clean environment are some of the areas of public and collective good where private rights being in conflict therewith has to take a back seat. In the words of Cicero “the good of the people is the chief law”.

The latin maxim Salus Populi Suprema Lex connotes that health, safety and welfare of the public is the supreme in law. Herebert Broom, in his celebrated publication, A Selection of Legal Maxims has elaborated the essence thereof as hereunder:

“The phrase is based on the implied agreement of every member of the society that his own individual welfare shall, in cases of necessity, yield to that of community; and that his property, liberty and life shall, under certain circumstances, be placed in jeopardy or even sacrificed for the public good.”

A Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in K.T. Plantation Ltd. v. State of Karnataka, in the context, amongst others, of the right to compensation under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India did observe hereunder:

“Hugo Grotius is credited with the invention of the term ‘eminent domain’ (jus or dominium eminens) which implies that public rights always overlap with private rights to property, and in the case of public utility, public rights take precedence. Grotius sets two conditions on the exercise of the power of eminent domain: the first requisite is public advantage and then compensation from the public funds be made, if possible, to the one who has lost his right. Application of the above principle varies from countries to countries. German, American and Australian Constitutions bar uncompensated takings.” Sayyed Ratanbhai Sayeed v. Shirdi Nagar Panchayat, (2016) 4 SCC 631.

 

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Public Interest Litigation – Meaning of

Black’s Law Dictionary defines public interest as follows:
“Public Interest.—Something in which the public, the community at large, has some pecuniary interest, or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected. It does not mean anything so narrow as mere curiosity or as the interests of the particular localities, which may be affected by the matters in question. Interest shared by citizens generally in affairs of local, State or National Government.”
Advanced Law Lexicon defines ‘Public Interest Litigation’ as under:
“the expression ‘PIL’ means a legal action initiated in a Court of Law for the enforcement of public interest or general interest in which the public or a class of the community has pecuniary interest or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected.”
The Council for Public Interest Law set up by the Ford Foundation in USA defines “Public Interest Litigation” in it’s Report of Public Interest Law, USA, 1976, as follows:
“Public interest law is the name given that has recently been given to efforts providing legal representation to previously unrepresented groups and interests. Such efforts have been undertaken in the recognition that ordinary market place for legal services fails to provide such services to significant segments of the population and to significant interests. Such groups and interests include the proper environmentalists, consumers, racial and ethnic minorities and others.”
The Apex Court in the case of People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, (1982) 3 SCC 235, has observed that the public interest litigation is a co-operative or collaborative effort by the petitioner, the State or Public Authority and the Judiciary to secure observance of Constitutional or basic human rights, benefits and privileges upon the poor, downtrodden and vulnerable sections of the Society.
Public interest litigation means a litigation to espouse Public Interest. Hon’ble Supreme Court in Janta Dal v. H.S. Chowdhary, AIR 1993 SC 892, held that ‘Public Interest’ does not mean mere curiosity. Prakash Chand Srivastav v. State of U.P., 2014 (3) ESC 1665.

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