Bhuwania’s article studies the politics of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in contemporary India. PIL is a unique jurisdiction initiated by the Indian Supreme Court in the aftermath of the Emergency of 1975-77. Bhuwania locates the history of PIL in India’s postcolonial predicament, arguing that a constitutional framework that mandated a statist agenda of social transformation provided the conditions of possibility for PIL to emerge. The enormous powers of PIL stem from its populist character, which allows the appellate courts great flexibility in being able to maneuver themselves into positions of overweening authority. With little or no procedure to regulate it, it is increasingly difficult to locate PIL within the conventional rubric of adjudicatory practice. With fundamental departures from legal norms that further empower the courts, the essay argues that PIL has emerged as the vanishing point of jurisprudence. The judicial populism of PIL allows for a radical instability that continually pushes the limits of what a court can do.
Anuj Bhuwania; Courting the People: The Rise of Public Interest Litigation in Post-Emergency India. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2014; 34 (2): 314–335. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2773875
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