Public Interest Litigation (PIL), since the late 1970s when it commenced in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, has become a prominent feature of the functioning of the Constitutional courts in our country. Among the standout features of this type of litigation is that it is intended to ensure access to justice to those who, as a result of tangible and intangible barriers, are unable to espouse their causes themselves.This explains the facets of PIL being non-adversarial1 , having relaxed rules of standing2 , the Court appointing Commissioners to gather facts or give expert advice in the form of reports3, and most importantly, the Court using the device of a ‘continuing mandamus’ to continue to monitor the implementation of its orders over a period of time4 .
The High Court of Odisha has its fair share of PILs on a range of issues including protection of the environment, management of prisons, manual scavenging, health, public accountability of institutions and so on. Some prominent cases have continued over the years, with the High Court monitoring the implementation of its orders through the device of the ‘continuing mandamus’.
The purpose of this portal is to disseminate information on a few of the significant pending PILs that have engaged the attention of the High Court of Orissa. Apart from a brief description of the case, the portal intends to make accessible all the orders in that particular case. Since some of these proceedings have been livestreamed since August 2021, the links to the hearings are also provided. A person intending to file a PIL afresh in the High Court of Odisha might want to first check on this portal if there is a matter already pending on the same subject. This might help avoid multiplicity of petitions. The Bench hearing PILs might also find this portal useful.
The pleadings in the PILs are not made available as there are issues of privacy, confidentiality, and consequential issues of redaction, which will require more deliberation. The High Court welcomes suggestions on improving this portal and its features.