Genesis and Evolution of Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of Pakistan

Project Duration: 2014 to 2015

Accounts of judicial activism or the “judicialization of politics” in Pakistan are narrowly focused on the recent ‘Lawyers’ Movement’ and the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. A crucial part of the judicialization story which appears to be missing from these accounts is the gradual and cyclical expansion of the Supreme Court‘s power through the production and use of public interest litigation (known as “PIL”) since its genesis in the early 1990s.

In a law journal article published in the Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, Research Fellow Maryam S. Khan attempts to historicize the Supreme Court’s activism through a combined qualitative and quantitative study of the evolution of PIL over a quarter-century. The study demonstrates that, in transitional societies like Pakistan, the determinants of judicial power are embedded in structural factors that provide an enabling environment for legitimacy-starved judicial actors and the professional and lay denizens of the law courts to cyclically assert ascendancy, even hegemony, over the political process.

Research Outputs