An actio popularis was an action in Roman penal law brought by a member of the public in the interest of public order.
The action exists in some modern legal systems. For example, in Spain, an actio popularis was accepted by Judge Garzón in June 1996 which charged that certain Argentine military officers had committed crimes of genocide and terrorism. The actions were brought by the Free Union of Lawyers, Izquierda Unida and the Madrid Argentine Association for Human Rights: private citizens and organisations who were not themselves the victims of the crimes in the action and who proceeded without the sanction of the public prosecuting authorities. In India, public interest litigation has been used to guarantee several human rights, including the right to health, livelihood, free and compulsory primary education, unpolluted environment, shelter, clean drinking water, privacy, legal aid, speedy trial, and several rights of under-trials, convicts and prisoners.
- Boudewijn Sirks (2009), Stanley N. Katz (ed.), "Cognitio and Imperial and Bureaucratic Courts", The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History. (e-reference ed.), Oxford University Press. Oxford Reference Online, ISBN 978-0-19-533651-1
- Maria del Carmen Marquez Carrasco and Joaquin Alcaide Fernandez, "In re Pinochet. Spanish National Court, Criminal Division (Plenary Session) Case 19/97, November 4, 1998; Case 1/98, November 5, 1998" (1999) 93 (3) The American Journal of International Law 690 at 691
- Deva, Surya (2009). "Public Interest Litigation in India: a Critical Review" (PDF). Civil Justice Quarterly. 28 (1): 25.