Locus Standi

Maygha Viswanat

Being in the legal fraternity and as law students we often come across the term “Locus Standi.” This maxim forms the deciding factor when a case comes up before the court. It is thus the very basic requirement for the case to be heard by the presiding judge. In simple parlance it means, the right of a party to appear and be heard before a court or the right of a part to bring an action before the court. In better words it is the term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party’s participation in the case. In Canadians for the Abolition of the Seal Hunt ((Canadians for the Abolition of the Seal Hunt v Canada [1981] 1 FC 733)), Justice Walsh of the Canadian Federal Court referred to locus standi as:

“The right of individuals to bring proceedings … when they are not personally affected (other than of course in their sensibilities) by the law or regulations complained of….”

In R v Paddington ((R v Paddington Valuation Officer, Ex parte Peachey Property Corporation Ltd[1966] 1 QB 380))the court held that:

“The court would not listen, of course, to a mere busybody who was interfering in things which did not concern him. But it will listen to anyone whose interests are affected by what has been done.”

In Saskatchewan Ltd. v Sask. Liquor and Gaming Authority ((157DLR 4th 82 (1998).)), the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal adopted these words in regards to locus standi:

“A place of standing; standing in court. A right of appearance in a court of justice… on a given question. Roughly speaking, this place of standing, enabling a person to appear before and be heard by a court in relation to a given question, may be acquired in one of two ways: as of right, in reliance upon one’s own private interests in the question (private interest standing); or with leave of the court in reliance largely upon the public’s interest in the question (public interest standing). And standing may exist, or be granted, in both civil and criminal proceedings, proceedings of one sort and other involving claims of various kinds, including a claim that a law is unconstitutional.”

In the case of R vs. Inland Revenue Commissioner (([2000] STC 751, 73 Tax Cas 276)), the court laid down guidelines to determine when the party has sufficient interest in the matter. In India, the concept was Locus Standi was broadened with the advent of Public Interest Litigation. Thus in Fertilizer Corporation Kamgar vs. Union of India ((1981 AIR 344, 1981 SCR (2).)), the court liberalized the concept of locus standi to encourage public interest litigations. Today in India with regard to Public Interest Litigation (PIL), locus standi has been relaxed. Now, any person, group etc who are acting as public spirited citizens can approach the court of law.

Today the concept of locus standi has been broadened and is no more looked at from a narrow angle. Locus standi is one of the most essential and fundamental ingredients or pre-requisite that has to be fulfilled before the court hears the matter. However, due to its strict interpretation, many at times justice was not being served. By bringing out regulations to relax Locus Standi, the country has struck the right chord to bring in a balance with regard to approaching the court.