This article has been written by Siddiqua Abdullah, pursuing a Paralegal Associate Diploma and has been edited by Oishika Banerji (Team Lawsikho). 

It has been published by Rachit Garg.


The doctrine of locus standi is an old doctrine. The doctrine signifies appearance before the court or  before anybody on a given question. According to the doctrine of locus standi, a person who is stranger to a disputed matter cannot be allowed to interfere in the judicial proceedings. Only a person whose legal right has been violated, that is the aggrieved person against whom a decision has been pronounced, is allowed to bring an action in the court. The Latin word locus (plural loci) signifies “place.” “Locus standi” is a Latin phrase for “place to stand” and thereby refers to a vested legal right to file a lawsuit so as to provide a party with the ability to show the court of law that the law or action that has been challenged, has a considerable relation to the party and the resultant damages justify the party’s involvement in the case. It is the Supreme Court of the United States who has rightly confirmed that the essence of the discussed doctrine lies in the question as to whether the litigant has the entitlement to have the court determine the merits of the case or only specific issues associated with it. This article provides an idea to the author about the principle of locus standi thereby ideally referring to certain precedents that amplify the discussed concept. 

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Essential ingredients of locus standi

The essential ingredients that have been laid down under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 have been laid down hereunder:

Presence of injury

It is necessary to note that the fundamental requirement for instituting a suit involves that person suffering from some kind of an injury. This injury can be the consequence of the act done by private parties or the state act. It is noteworthy to mention that the injury we are talking about can be either actual or anticipatory by its nature. 

In the case of Shanti Kumar vs Home Insurance Co (1975), the Supreme Court of India had observed that the term “aggrieved person” does not mean a person who has suffered any imaginary injury but it means that the rights of the person have been violated adversely in reality. It means the injury must be physical, mental, monetary, etc and not mere an imagination.

Traditionally the rigid view of locus standi was followed and according to which only the person who had any direct interest in the matter could bring an action in the court. But in the 20th century, there emerged a parallel viewpoint of the locus standi that is the relaxation of locus standi. 


Put simply, the term ‘causation’ signifies the cause and effect relationship. It means that there shall be a presence of sufficient relationship between the act of one party in relation to the injury that is undergone by an aggrieved party. The purpose behind this ingredient is to ensure that the resultant injury can be traced back to the action that has caused it, belonging to the  defendant. The ingredient also ensures that the injury is not caused by any independent or third party for then the causal relationship will be difficult to establish. 

Exceptions to the principle of locus standi 

Locus standi in relation to Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

The scenario in cases of PIL in regards to locus standi appears less complex in comparison to situations involving private litigation. Courts have contributed in bringing about a simpler, more flexible and wider rule for governing the aspect of locus standi in cases of PIL. The locus standi in cases of PIL is based on public welfare thereby abiding by the fundamental principles of the Constitution, to advance the cause of the community, disadvantaged groups and individuals, or the public interest. 

In the case of S.P Gupta vs Union of India (1982), the Supreme Court observed that in India a large number of persons are exploited and ignorant of their legal rights. These weaker sections of the country are not in a position to approach the court for judicial remedy. So in order to provide justice to these people, the principle of locus standi should be relaxed. It further held that whenever the legal rights of a person or class of persons is violated and by any reason they cannot approach the court, then any public spirited person can file a petition on behalf of them under Articles 226 and 32 of the Indian Constitution in high court and Supreme Court respectively.

In this case, the Supreme Court held that advocates and judges are an important part of the judicial system. And as the law minister’s letter violated an essential feature of the Indian Constitution, the advocates had interest in the matter and thus, they also had locus standi as well. It also means that every Indian citizen has the right to challenge the constitutional validity of the laws passed by the Parliament as the Indian Constitution belongs to all its citizens ( this is mentioned in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution).

It was in the case of Akhil Bhartiya Soshit Karmachari Sangh vs. Union of India (1980), where the Apex Court had ruled that although the Akhil Bhartiya Soshit Karmachari Sangh (Railway) was an unregistered association, it was eligible to file a writ-petition under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, in order to get redressal of a popular grievance. The Court had further held that constitutional jurisprudence provides access to justice by means of class actions, public interest litigation, and representative proceedings.

Legislations constitutionality 

It is ideal to note that the principle of locus standi is often seen to be relaxed when it comes to the constitutionality of legislation being in issue. In Indian context, statutory legality can be challenged before the court of law without affecting the functionality of the same. 

In the case of Charan Lal Sahu & Anr. v. Giyani Zail Singh (1984), the question regarding challenging the election of the President and the Vice President in accordance with the Presidential and Vice Presidential Act, 1952, was raised. It concerned the election of President in 1982 for which 36 nominations were filed including that of the petitioner, Charan Lal Sahu. As the documentation of 34 candidates was not proper, the Returning Officer rejected their nomination. The two candidates who were not rejected were Zail Singh and H.R Khanna ( retired Justice of the Supreme Court).

On 12th July 1982, Zail Singh became the President of India. As Charan Lal’s nomination was canceled and thus he couldn’t contest for the election. After the election was over, he challenged the election on the ground that Zail Singh had exercised undue influence over the voters. Sahu also alleged that H.R Khanna was not competent as he gave wrong decisions on fundamental rights cases. The Attorney General represented the President of India and challenged the locus standi of Charan Lal. According to Section 14A of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Act, 1952 the election of President and Vice President can be only challenged by the candidates of the election. And Section 13(1) of the Act says that a candidate is the one who has been nominated as a candidate in an election. So the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that since the petitioner was not nominated as a candidate in the Presidential election, he had no locus standi and hence his petition was dismissed.

Remedies laid down by existing statutes in force 

There may be statutes which expressly relaxes the rigid requirement of locus standi. One can recognise such relaxation by usage of phrases such as “person aggrieved” or “aggrieved person”.  However, the final decision is made  by the court of law approaching the dispute appearing before it. The phrase ‘person aggrieved’ showcases a divergent scope and it not only includes the person who actually suffered the loss but those who have an apprehension towards future loss. The case of Sunil Batra vs Delhi Administration (1980) needs a reference in this case. 

In this case, Sunil Batra was a prisoner in the Tihar jail. He wrote a letter to a Supreme Court judge, in which he mentioned that the jail warden was brutally assaulting another prisoner i.e, Prem Chand, who was sentenced with life imprisonment. The warden assaulted Prem so that he could extract money from his relatives. One day Prem Chand got severely injured as the warden hit him with an iron rod. Thus, Chand was treated by the prison’s doctor but when his condition deteriorated then he was shifted to hospital. So, in this case the question arose whether a letter could be treated as a writ petition or not. Thus, the Supreme Court widened the ambit of the writ of habeas corpus which included all kinds of ill practices that were being practiced in the jail. And hence the letter was converted into a writ petition. After this case the following reforms were made:

  1. Provisions were made so that the prisoners could be aware of their legal rights.
  2. Provision was made regarding lodging of prisoners’ complaints. A register should be kept at every jail so that the prisoners can lodge their complaints.
  3. Confidential interviews of prisoners with advocates appointed by the court were arranged.
  4. Session Judges were also required to visit jails periodically in order to enquire from the prisoners, so that whenever it is necessary they can take actions against it.


Over all these years, the principle of locus standi has evolved to a great extent. The traditional concept that only aggrieved persons can bring suit in court led to the deprivation of justice by many. So now the rigid view has been relaxed so that even people of weaker sections can get justice. It means any person who is acting in good faith can bring a suit in the court of law. This relaxation in the principle of locus standi is the result of judicial activism. As the main objective our judicial system is to maintain justice in the society and because of this reason Public Interest Litigation came into existence in India in the 1970s and locus standi is an integral part of  Public Interest Litigation. The relaxation of locus standi has promoted the public interest litigation and this has led to a revolution in the administration of justice. But due to this relaxation, principle of locus standi is abused which leads to accumulation of frivolous cases in the court. So, the courts must be cautious while admitting a case so that there is no misuse of the principle of locus standi.  



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