Anti-Corruption Litigation in the Supreme Court of India

Anti-Corruption Litigation in the Supreme Court of India

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The Indian Supreme Court has become a major site of anti-corruption activism in India in the late 1990s, with anti-corruption NGOs bringing litigation to a strongly counter-majoritarian Court. The Court had begun to entertain public interest litigation (PIL) petitions in the early 1980s, relaxing the strict rules of standing, allowing representative actions as well as actions by concerned citizens for issues of public interest. While it had primarily heard cases related to social causes and human rights issues in its early period, corruption-related complaints began to rise, with weak elected coalition governments increasing NGOs’ reliance on the Court.

This paper examines the evolution of the Court's treatment of such cases. It is the second in a series examining the challenges and opportunities facing civil society groups that seek to develop innovative legal approaches to expose and punish grand corruption.

The series has been developed from a day of discussions on the worldwide legal fight against high-level corruption organized by the Justice Initiative and Oxford University’s Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, held in June 2014.