The Indian judiciary has been tasked with the responsibility to balance the rights of individuals and the public interest in our country. The judiciary has, over the years, been instrumental in interpreting and implementing the Constitution of India, which protects the fundamental rights of citizens. In doing so, it has striven to strike a delicate balance between Fundamental Rights and Public Interest. One of the key principles that the judiciary has relied on in balancing them is the Doctrine of Reasonable Restriction[1]. This doctrine holds that the State may impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of fundamental rights to secure public order, morality, and the general welfare of the people. 

In recent years, the Indian judiciary has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of marginalized communities, such as women, Dalits, and Adivasis. The judiciary has taken a proactive stance in protecting the rights of these communities, interpreting our Constitution and laws in a manner that promotes their well-being and dignity. It has employed various principles and doctrines in interpreting and implementing the provisions of the Constitution, ensuring that the rights of citizens are protected and that the public interest is served. The judiciary’s approach has been fair, equitable, and proactive, and it continues to play a vital role in upholding the rule of law in India.


Public Interest[2] is a complex topic that has its intrinsic value as a burning democratic and social topic. It is about finding paths to counter issues related to Human & social welfare and Justice. But in reality, Public Interest is a governmental matter used by every government in the election campaign. The Government emerges as an instrument that can improve society and attract more and more people at the same time.

On the other hand, Individual Rights are considerably basic, fundamental freedom that every citizen should have to build and live in a healthy social community. These rights ensure a healthy, progressive atmosphere in our society and help to reduce the suffering of common people. These individual rights are constituted from Articles 12 to 35. They are- the ‘Right To Equality’, ‘Right To Freedom’, ‘Right Against Exploitation’, ‘Right to Freedom of Religion, ‘Cultural and Educational Rights’, ‘Saving of Certain Laws’ and ‘Right To Constitutional Remedies.’ Though these rights are basic social freedom, certain restrictions on these rights are applicable and are enforceable by Court.


India is a country that has a complex relationship between public interest and individual rights. The Indian Constitution provides for the protection of Individual Rights or Fundamental Rights[3] including ‘Freedom of Speech’, religion, and the ‘Right to Equality’, among others. One area where this conflict between public interest and individual rights is particularly evident is in the context of land acquisition. The Indian government has the power to acquire land for public purposes, such as the construction of infrastructure projects like highways and airports. However, this has often come at the expense of individual landowners, who have been forced to give up their land without adequate compensation.

Another area where this tension between Fundamental Rights and Public Interest has arisen is in the context of the ‘Right to Privacy’. This was seen as a victory for individual rights, particularly in the face of the growing use of surveillance technology by the state. However, the government has argued that it needs to balance the ‘Right to Privacy’ with the ‘Public Interest’ in maintaining national security.

One of the most contentious issues in the public interest vs individual rights debate in India is the reservation system[4]. The reservation system was introduced as a way to address historical discrimination against marginalized groups, including Dalits and Adivasis. However, it has also been criticized for being unfair to individuals who do not belong to these groups, as they are denied opportunities based on their caste. There have been ongoing debates about the effectiveness and fairness of the reservation system in India. India has a range of laws and regulations aimed at protecting the environment, including the Forest Conservation Act and the Wildlife Protection Act. However, these laws have been criticized for being overly restrictive and limiting economic development. For example, the ban on mining in certain areas has been criticized for preventing economic growth and job creation.

In conclusion, the conflict between public interest and individual rights is an ongoing debate in India. While the Indian Constitution provides for the protection of individual rights, many laws and regulations aim to balance these rights with the public interest. This has resulted in a complex and often contentious relationship between the two.


 Finding and ensuring a balance between public interest and individual rights is necessary for every developing society, as it is a key criterion of the progress and well-being of society. Thus, the Indian Judiciary leaves no stone unturned to solve the arriving issues between them. 

Over the years the Indian Judiciary has been trying to value its citizens and ensure that Fundamental Rights are not compromised. The Judiciary has executed its powers to strike down laws and government policies that violate the Constitution or infringe on the rights of individuals. For Example- The Supreme Court has struck down Maratha Reservation Policy as it violates the fundamentals of reservation policy. Public Interest Litigation or PIL is another legal action initiated in the interest of the public or the common good. The Indian Judiciary is proactive in entertaining PILs filed by individuals, organizations, and NGOs to address public interest issues. For a decade, these PILs have become the key instrument to force the Government to take actions in the public interest such as Corruption, Environmental Policy, information about policies, Data Protection, Consumer Affairs, etc.

The Indian Judiciary has also set up many special courts with special perks and privileges, Tribunals in particular areas related to the public interest and private rights. For- National Green Tribunal was established to handle environmental disputes and ensure that environmental laws are enforced, Lok Adalat, Income Tax Appellant Tribunal, Armed Force Tribunal, Water Dispute Tribunal, etc. These tribunals are established to discharge judicial matters so that the caseload of the Judiciary can be reduced, hearings can become smoother and faster, and special treatment can be given for public issues. The Indian Judiciary also has the power of Judicial Review to strike down many laws, bills, and acts which violate the regulations of public and private interest. Though these are some examples of many initiatives taken by the Indian Judiciary, there is still a long way to go in achieving a balance between public interest and the rights of individuals.


Though finding a balance between public interest and private rights is essential for modern society, keeping it in a good percentage is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. By focusing on transparency, consultation, ethical decision-making, education, and alternative dispute resolution it is possible to smooth out the conflict between public interest and the rights of individuals so that proper Justice can be served.

The Government should be more efficient and transparent in the decision-making process via open data policies, public audits, and citizen feedback mechanisms. This can also include consultation with shareholders (in the case of public sector institutions), as this can help to identify and address every conflict between public interest and individual rights. 

Educating the public about the importance of both private and public interests and welfare can help to make a better community that would understand the need for reforms between these two if required. This mission can be accomplished through public campaigns, public seminars, and educational programs. Fast and efficient decisions should be taken in every decision-making process and decision-makers should consider the ethical implications of their actions and balance the public interest with private rights. For example, in the context of land accusations for public initiative and welfare, the government should ensure that landowners are provided with fair compensation and that their fundamental rights are not violated.


The Public Interest along with Individual Rights and other democratic concepts is so complex to understand that it is hard to make a decision and cherish it. Though The Indian Judiciary has made many acts, and doctrines to safeguard public and private interests, there are still miles to go before sleep.  As both public and private interests are necessary for the account of the well-being of our society the legislature must make healthy and socio-friendly changes. By focusing on transparency, consultation, and understanding between Legislature and Judiciary it is possible to smooth out the conflict between Public Interest and Individual Rights and create a more Just and Equitable society.

Author(s) Name: Dibyojit Mukherjee (Nirma University)


[1]  Doctrine of reasonable restriction- Article 19 of the Constitution of India-

[2]  ‘Public interest’ 

[3] Fundamental Rights of the Constitution of India, 1950.

[4]  Reservation System- 

error: Content is protected !!