eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

How to file PILs and Writ Petitions — by Dr. Leo Rebello

Posted by egovindia on August 1, 2006

From: mohan siroya To: ; Cc:

Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 5:42 PM Subject: Re: how do letters get suo moto converted to PILs

That’s good info doc and it should be displayed/publicized widely in public interest. Mohan Siroya

From: Ram To: Dr. Leo Rebello Cc:

Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 4:20 PM Subject: Re: how do letters get suo moto converted to PILs

Respected Dr.

I cant find  proper words to thank you for not only giving useful guidelines but even pumping courage into me by

accepting my views in the concluding part of your long but lively letter.

I am 75 plus with old age ailments.Therefore, physical  activity is limited . Am  quite unhappy with the present rotten/most corrupt system almost all over. It hurts more because despite 60 years into freedom and 10 five years gone by, the common man   is still languishing for bare necessities. Executive wing of the Govt. not responding in the manner it should for the rasons we all know, the only salvation rests with the judiciary.

With warm regards,


From: “Dr. Leo Rebello” wrote :

Thank you Karmayog for referring this matter to me for my advice.

Let Ram Panjwani (or other activists on this net) simply attach the press report and send the letter to the Chief Justice of the High Court, giving briefly

the reasons why the Court should convert it into suo motu writ petition. Usually the petitions from senior citizens, handicapped persons, widows, orphans
those in jail or anyone writing on their behalf are taken note of. Letter may be delivered in duplicate personally (insist on acknowledgement) or sent through courier or registered post AD.

PIL/WP can also be easily registered under article 226 of the Constitution of India in any High Court. The emphasis is on Public Interest. It should not be private interest made to sound like public interest. Here are three examples :

1.. The authorities cordoning off a busy road at Prabhadevi creating a bottle neck there to protect the Siddhi Vinayak temple from the possible terrorist attack and other such knee-jerk solutions is NOT in public interest. Hence, a PIL can easily be taken up for violations of several provisions of law.
But no one dare
take this issue up, because it will be seen through communal goggles even by the judges.

2.. Someone recently took up a PIL against Shahrukh Khan developing his extra space behind his so-called heritage bungalow at Bandra. That was certainly not in public interest and hence even the Supreme Court rejected the said petition.

3.. Sheriff of Mumbai saying that the Race Course be developed is certainly in public interest and this should be taken up. But if the said matter were to come up before judges who are interested in racing (gambling) they may not be favourably inclined and public interest would be cast aside and private interest of select super rich will be protected.  As Harold Laski said in Grammar of Politics : “Judges do not give judgments, they only give decisions; they only decide which of the two sides argued better”. 

To file a PIL, earlier there was a nominal fee of Rs.50. Now I think it is Rs.200 or Rs.250. You do NOT need a lawyer to draft or argue your case, if you can think, write and argue yourself straight. Sometimes locus standi is asked to be explained. That can be cooly answered by quoting Article 51(A) of the Constitution of India, which underlines 10 Fundamental Duties of a Citizen, as long as there is no axe to grind on the part of a person working in public interest.  Also under section 32 of the Advocates Act anyone can represent a person in need. You need not engage an advocate. Taking advantage of that section, I have gone knocking at every court in Bombay (on behalf of those who are extremely needy), something which even many lawyers may not have done. Needless to say I have won every time.

Suo Motu – means if the court is convinced it acts on its own to correct the grave wrong, under its inherent jurisdiction. One can write an accurate, brief and clear letter to the Chief Justice and other Judges, and send the same through the Registrar General with a copy to the Advocate General of Maharashtra if it is the Bombay High Court.

My two page letter against MHADA was converted into suo motu Writ Petition in the early eighties.  What I had compressed in 2 pages, later on had become 80 pages with attachment of documents etc.  And I won the same. I argued the case myself eventhough at that time I had no experience. My another WP was on Ganpati pandal in the middle of the main road at Kandivali East. It was admitted for expedited hearing. But the papers were lost in the court and so many dirty tricks were played, by the Shiv Sena corporator, to defeat me. But I followed it up for 14 years and ultimately won, arguing
myself, inspite of threats
to liquidate me etc.

There is also a short cut — at the beginning of the Court, morning and afternoon, there is a “mention time”.  Ram can draft a letter, take two copies of that letter and impress upon the court during the “mention time” why the said matter be treated as a suo motu. The bench will then advise him accordingly. I got one such WP admitted in a BARC scientist’s matter.

For suo motu writ petitions there is no fee.

I am sure this information will be useful to activists on Karmayog net.  As Ram rightly underlines, one has to be sharp and open eyed. That is the pre-requisite of a good citizen.

Best Wishes  

Dr. Leo Rebello wrote :  Will you or any other knowledgable person clarify as to how to make the Hon’ble High Court to sou moto convert any letter from a common  in the paper  or any write up  by the media reporter . In other words in what form one has to bring that information to the knowledge of the Court and it be urged to take cognizence of it and convert it into PIL. There is no doubt that there must be stories of gross negligence and other acts of ommission and commision by the authorities  which may not be getting noticed by the Court but must be noticed  by sharp and open eyed person  who may not find  himself  resourceful enough to file a PIL. Ram /


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