Thursday, October 7, 2010

What is public interest litigation?

 Public interest litigation involves the legal actions by private citizens in courts to seek remedies against public wrongs committed by government or public bodies. 

It is an adjudication of disputes between private individuals and the state initiated to promote the public good in terms of society as a whole.

Public interest litigation mainly involves a violation of the fundamental  rights of  a citizen as enshrined in the FC.It becomes public interest because if one persons right has been violated by any public bodies or tribunals, that this becomes a precedent affecting all citizens in future. Therefore the action or decision of the particular body is challenged because the public will be affected in the future.

One recurring troublesome area in  Malaysia is Art 5 of the FC- no person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with the law. What happens when a citizen is not given access to a counsel? Just when can an accused have access to a counsel? If you are arrested on a charge- exactly when can you see a lawyer? What happens when Art 149 is invoked by the PP? This is one example of public interest .

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