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Difference between PIL and Writ

Difference between PIL and Writ

Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

A PIL is a legal proceeding that is initiated by a public-spirited individual or organization to protect the interests of the general public. PILs are typically filed in the Supreme Court of India or in the High Courts.

PILs can be filed on a wide range of issues, such as:

  • Violation of human rights
  • Environmental degradation
  • Consumer protection
  • Social welfare
  • Public health

The court has the power to grant a variety of reliefs in PILs, such as:

  • Issuing writs
  • Directing the government to take certain actions
  • Compensating the victims of human rights violations


A writ is a formal order issued by a court to a government official or other person, directing them to do or refrain from doing something. Writs are typically used to enforce fundamental rights or to protect the rule of law.

There are five types of writs that can be issued by the Supreme Court and the High Courts:

  • Habeas corpus: This writ is used to secure the release of a person who is being held in unlawful custody.
  • Mandamus: This writ is used to compel a public official to perform a public duty.
  • Prohibition: This writ is used to prohibit a public official from acting beyond their jurisdiction.
  • Certiorari: This writ is used to transfer a case from a lower court to a higher court for review.
  • Quo warranto: This writ is used to challenge the right of a person to hold a public office.

Differences between PIL and Writ

The following table summarizes the key differences between PILs and writs:

Who can file?Any public-spirited individual or organizationOnly the person whose rights have been violated or who has a direct and substantial interest in the matter
PurposeTo protect the public interestTo enforce individual rights or to protect the rule of law
Locus standiRelaxedStrict
ScopeWide range of issuesLimited to enforcement of fundamental rights or protection of the rule of law
Reliefs that can be grantedWrits, directions to the government, compensation, etc.Only writs


  • PIL: A PIL is filed in the Supreme Court to challenge the government’s decision to allow the construction of a dam in a forest area. The PIL argues that the dam will displace thousands of indigenous people and destroy the forest ecosystem.
  • Writ: A person is arrested and detained by the police without charge. The person’s family files a writ of habeas corpus in the High Court to secure their release.

In both of these examples, the court is being asked to intervene to protect the rights of individuals or groups of people. However, the PIL is seeking to protect the public interest in general, while the writ is seeking to protect the individual rights of the person who has been arrested.

Adcocate J.S. Rohilla (Civil & Criminal Lawyer in Indore)

Contact: 88271 22304

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