COMMON CAUSE, a registered Society with membership all over the country and operating on All India basis, has earned reputation and credibility as an Organisation dedicated to public causes for seeking redress for problems of the people. Its initiative in public interest litigation, for solving the common and collective problems of the people, has greatly contributed to the evolution and spread of the system in the country and its adoption by the people on a substantial scale for effecting redressal of public grievances.
A large number of writ petitions have been filed by the Organisation in the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court, and quite a few important cases have been taken to the National Commission established under the Consumer Protection Act. The very first case taken up by COMMON CAUSE, almost two decades ago soon after its establishment, related to the problems of pensioners. Almost four million pensioners benefited from the three important decisions which the Organisation was able to secure from the Supreme Court, relating to the extension of liberalisation of pension, restoration of commutation of pension and extension of the scheme of family pension. An important matter relating to the pending criminal cases of the courts of the country was taken to the Supreme Court. In our writ petition specific suggestions were submitted for adoption of procedures for dealing with backlog. The important decision given by Supreme Court in this case led to the discharge of large number of accused persons and release of prisoners whose cases had dragged on for long periods. These directions have brought about termination of hundreds of thousands of cases all over the country. On the subject of general malfunctioning of Blood Banks a writ petition was formulated and taken to the Supreme Court. Directions given by the court on this important matter has led to the evolution of system for registration of Blood Banks and stoppage of use of professional blood donors. On the general matter of corruption and establishment of the institutions of LOKPAL and LOK AYUKTAS in the country the Supreme Court, on a writ petition of the organisation, gave a verdict of severe punishment in a particular case, and the matter relating to the appointment of Lok Ayuktas has continued to be pursued by issuing direction to all States. On another writ petition the Supreme Court gave very important direction in relation to the conduct of election campaigns by the political parties, in relation to a provisin which has been incorporated in the election law. The Court also directed strict compliance with law in relation to the submission of Income-tax Returns by the political parties.

In Delhi High Court a number of writ petitions have been filed by the organisation. Problems of general importance, such as anomalies arising in the Property Tax and the difficulties encountered in the operation of old Rent Control laws, have been taken up and are being pursued. There has been large-scale theft of electricity in Delhi on account of which electric distribution has often got disrupted and the authority has had to resort to load-shedding; these problems have been taken to Delhi High Court and are being pursued. A major problem in Delhi has been the large-scale establishment of unauthorised residential colonies. There has been demand for their regularisation; this was challenged by the organisation and the matter continues to be further pursued.

An important matter relating to Rail Disasters which have taken place in the country in recent years has also been taken to the Supreme Court. Other important matters recently taken to the Supreme Court include the functioning of Fake Universities and ineligible Teaching shops, Crime and Violence on TV, Telephone freebies to over 3 lakhs employees, required change-over to two Time Zones, and deficiencies found in the implementation of Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) of GOI. The National Commission established under the Consumer Protection Act has, on our submission, issued certain important decisions on matters such as use of iodized salt, stoppage of malfunctioning in relation to intravenous fluids, operation of buses on Delhi roads and strikes by Banks and Air India. Important decisions in general interest of consumers secured from the Supreme Court include establishment of Consumer Forums in all districts of the country and price printing also on all imported packages.

Membership of the organisation is open to all. Membership fees are Rs. 100 for annual membership for individuals, Rs. 500 for life membership and Rs. 200 for annual membership of organisations and associations. Quarterly Periodical COMMON CAUSE goes free to all members; it has no separate subscription. Donations to COMMON CAUSE are eligible for exemption available under Section 80-G of Income Tax Act. Everybody can take membership of the organisation. No form is required. Send your name and address, written in capital letters, along with cheque/DD, drawn in favour of COMMON CAUSE.

October-December 04