What is epistolary jurisdiction?

Justice Leonen: In G.R. No. 180771, petitioners Resident Marine Mammals allegedly bring their case in their personal capacity, alleging that they stand to benefit or be injured from the judgment on the issues. The human petitioners implead themselves in a representative capacity "as legal guardians of the lesser life-forms and as responsible stewards of God's Creations." They use Oposa v. Factoran, Jr. as basis for their claim, asserting their right to enforce international and domestic environmental laws enacted for their benefit under the concept of stipulation pour autrui. As the representatives of Resident Marine Mammals, the human petitioners assert that they have the obligation to build awareness among the affected residents of Tañon Strait as well as to protect the environment, especially in light of the government's failure, as primary steward, to do its duty under the doctrine of public trust.

Resident Marine Mammals and the human petitioners also assert that through this case, this court will have the opportunity to lower the threshold for locus standi as an exercise of "epistolary jurisdiction." (G.R. No. 180771; April 21, 2015)

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in: People of India have the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21. Justice is the basic foundation on which dignified and meaningful life is rested. Further the Apex Court has held that justice should be speedy and inexpensive otherwise it offends Article 21. Therefore, Judiciary has constitutional obligation to deliver speedy and cheap justice. Judiciary in late 20th century has invented the devise of Public Interest Litigation (herein after refereed to as PIL) which has become a main weapon in the armory to deliver speedy justice at affordable costs. Further judiciary has adopted new kinds of procedural techniques while dealing with PIL. Many technical rules of procedure have been relaxed; the burden of the individual in fighting the litigation is reduced by various beneficial principles. Acting on letters written by or on behalf of the oppressed people is a strategy adopted by the Supreme Court for facilitating access to justice. This is known as ‘epistolary jurisdiction.’ The letters have been converted into writ petitions on the logic that Article 32 of the Constitution does not say as to “who” shall have the right to move the Supreme Court, nor does it say by “what” proceedings. The expression “appropriate proceedings” is too wide, and so moving the court through a letter can be appropriate proceedings because it would not be right to expect a person acting pro bono public to incur expenses from his pocket for having a regular writ petition prepared by a lawyer. It has to be appropriate not in terms of any particular form, but appropriate with reference to the purpose of the proceeding. (Epistolary Jurisdiction, Pages 1 and 2)

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