PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATIONS FOR THE PANDEMIC: THE INDIAN HIGH COURTS ON THE COVID-19 CRISIS

The High Courts in India enjoy concurrent jurisdiction with the Supreme Court with regard to Public Interest Litigations (PILs), but studies in PILs usually focus upon the Supreme Court itself. This paper aims to study the pattern of invocation of the PILs jurisdiction at the regional level before the High Courts. It surveys the variety of pleas and consequent actions or inaction under the PIL jurisdiction of different High Courts in India relating to COVID crisis and consequential matters. To that end, this paper undertakes a survey of High Court orders or judgments from April to July 2020. It seeks to understand the extent of demands made before the courts through PILs and the consequent response from the courts, and ask if the directions and level of response was homogenous or varied. It argues that the High Courts need to take greater cognisance of their orders inter-se, especially in PILs matters, as human rights protection through PILs cannot have contradictory voices.