Public Interest Litigation and the Advancement of Constitutional Rights in India: An Appraisal-Dr Ashwani Kumar
17 Oct 2016, 1pm | Room D, Law Faculty, Oxford Law Faculty

Dr Ashwani Kumar examines the genesis of public interest litigation (PIL) and its contribution in the progressive enlargement of constitutional rights in India through an expansive interpretation of the Indian Constitution. The relaxation of procedural requirements and the rule of locus standi, the birth of the Court’s “epistolary jurisdiction” and the suo moto exercise of their extraordinary jurisdiction by the writ courts to advance “public interest” will be touched upon.

The seminar will also discuss the broader issues raised by PIL by a discussing  whether “judicial supremacism” is antagonistic to the principles of parliamentary democracy and whether given the Constitutional scheme, the Supreme Court can become the “supreme arbiter” of its own jurisdiction. It needs to be assessed whether by conferring finality to its  decisions against the will of the people reflected  in legislation the equilibrium of power between the three  organs of the State has been judicially imperiled  by treating the judicial review power as part of the untouchable “basic structure” of the Constitution.

The relevance of the debate is underscored by the abuse of PIL which is being increasingly seen as “political interest litigation”, “private inquisitive litigation” or “publicity interest litigation.”  The abuse of the PIL mechanism by “officious intermeddler (s),  and “busy bodies” masquerading as crusaders for public justice has raised the much evaded but inescapable question of whether a review judicial power of such width and amplitude needs to be revisited.

img_20161017_142703img_20161017_131302image2image4

Speakers

Dr Ashwani Kumar
Ashwani Kumar represents the Indian National Congress party from Punjab in the Rajya Sabha. He has held key ministerial portfolios in the UPA government, including Ministry of Law and Justice; Parliamentary Affairs; Science and Technology and Ministry of Planning. In 1991, at the age of 37 he was appointed one of the youngest Additional Solicitor General of India. Kumar is an eminent legal counsel who has argued important cases before the Supreme Court including the Bhopal Gas Tragedy case