Varun Gauri has a new paper out that systematically goes through all public interest litigation decided by the Supreme Court since the 1980’s. As Gauri writes “the analysis finds that win rates for fundamental rights claims are significantly higher when the claimant is from an advantaged social group than when he or she is from a marginalized group, which constitutes a social reversal, both from the original objective of public interest litigation and from the relative win rates in the 1980s.”
I hope this stirs even more debate about what the purpose of PIL is. If it is primarily for disadvantaged groups that often have difficulty securing their rights through India’s other political institutions then how can the Court get back to focusing on this goal. Unfortunately, the details of all these cases aren’t readily available from the Supreme Court so it’s difficult to come to too many conclusions about why this trend has happened – i.e. is it the quality or type of claims being brought by the respective groups that accounts for some of this change. However, the paper does broadly support those critics of the Court who say it now has a middle class bias and is less receptive to the marginalized then it was just 10 or 20 years ago. A synopsis of the paper can be found here and the actual paper here.