In the Indian context, and especially in the context of the RTI Act, 2005, a significant judgment of the Supreme Court of India can be taken note of in understanding the term “public interest”. In ‘S. P. Gupta v President of India’, AIR 1982 SC 149, Justice Bhagwati, in referring to ‘public interest’, maintained: “Redressing public injury, enforcing public duty, protecting social, collective, ‘diffused’ rights and interests vindicate public interest… [in the enforcement of which] the public or a class of the community have pecuniary interest or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected.”
In State of Gujarat v Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kasab Jamat & others AIR 2006 Supreme Court 212, the Apex Court held “the interest of general public (public interest) is of a wide import covering public order, public health, public security, morals, economic welfare of the community, and the objects mentioned in Part IV of the Constitution [i.e. Directive Principles of State Policy]”.
One of the decisions of the Central Information Commission 1) also throws some light on this term. Public interest includes “disclosure of information that leads towards greater transparency and accountability” [in the working of a public authority]