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Published on Mar 6, 2017
The Indian higher judiciary has acquired an increasingly important role in India’s public discourse in the last few decades. The Supreme Court and the state High Courts have emerged as enormously powerful judicial institutions in the aftermath of the Internal Emergency of 1975-77. The principal means through which these judicial powers have been mobilized and enacted is the jurisdiction of Public Interest Litigation (PIL). This lecture talks about the political role that PIL has come to play in contemporary India. It revisits the circumstances and manoeuvres that led to the rise of PIL and traces its political journey since then, arguing that the enormous powers that PIL confers upon the appellate judiciary stems from its populist character.