Writ Jurisdiction of Supreme Court and High Court: The Supreme Court and High courts have the power to issue writs in the nature of habeas corpus, quo-warranto, mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, etc., under Articles 32 and 226 respectively.

  • These writs have been borrowed in India from England.
  • The right to constitutional remedies as we know is a guarantor of all other fundamental rights available to the people of India. 
  • Also the constitution also provides for the parliament to confer on the supreme court power to issue writs , for the purpose other than those mentioned above. Similarly High courts in India are also empowered to issue writs for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.

Types of Writs in India:

The Supreme Court of India is the defender of the fundamental rights of the citizens. For that, it has original and wide powers. It issues five kinds of writs for enforcing the fundamental rights of the citizens. The five types of writs are:

  1. Habeas Corpus
  2. Mandamus
  3. Prohibition
  4. Certiorari
  5. Quo-Warranto

Writ: Habeas Corpus:

  • habeas corpus means “you must have the body” .
  • By this writ the court directs the person or authority who has detained another person to bring the body of the prisoner before the court so as to enable the court to decide the validity, jurisdiction or justification for such detention. 
  • The principal aim of the writ is to ensure swift judicial review of alleged unlawful detention on liberty or freedom of the prisoner or detention. The great value of the writ is that it enables immediate determination of the right of a person as to his freedom. 
  • Under Article 22, a person arrested is required to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest, and failure to do so would entitle the arrested person to be released.
  • Writ of habeas corpus can be invoked not only against the state but also against any individual who is holding any person in unlawful custody or detention. 
  • In Gopalan v.Government of India, the Supreme Court ruled that the earliest date with reference to which the legality of detention may be examined is the date on which the application for the same is made to the court.

 Writ: Quo Warranto:

  • The term quo warranto means what is your authority.
  • The writ of quo warranto is used to judicially control executive action in the matter of making appointments to public offices under relevant statutory provisions. 
  • It is also used to protect a citizen from the holder of a public office to which he has no right. The writ calls upon the holder of a public office to show to the court under what authority he is holding the office in question. If he is not entitled to the office, the court may restrain him from acting in the office and may also declare the office to be vacant.
  • Quo warranto prevents illegal usurpation of public office by an individual. the necessary ingredients to be satisfied by the court before issuing a writ is that the office in question must be public , created by the constitution or a law and the person holding the office is not legally qualified to hold the office in clear infringements of provisions of the constitution or the law

Writ: Mandamus:

  • Mandamus is a command issued by a court to an authority directing it to perform a public duty imposed upon it by law.
  • Mandamus can be issued when the Government denies to itself a jurisdiction which it undoubtedly has under the law, or where an authority vested with a power improperly refuses to exercise it . The function of mandamus is to keep the public authorities within the limits of their jurisdiction while exercising public functions .Mandamus can be issued to any kind of authority in respect of any type of function as administrative, legislative, quasi-judicial, judicial Mandamus is used to enforce the performance of public duties by public authorities .Mandamus is not issued when Government is under no duty under the law. 
  • In Bombay municipality v. Advance Builders, the court directed the municipality to implement a planning scheme which was prepared by it and approved by the Government under the relevant statute but on which no action was taken for a considerable time.

Writ: Prohibition:

The meaning of ‘Prohibition’ is ‘To forbid.’ A court that is higher in position issues a Prohibition writ against a court that is lower in position to prevent the latter from exceeding its jurisdiction or usurping a jurisdiction that it does not possess. It directs inactivity.

Facts about Prohibition in India:

  • Writ of Prohibition can only be issued against judicial and quasi-judicial authorities.
  • It can’t be issued against administrative authorities, legislative bodies and private individuals or bodies.

Writ: Certiorari:  

  • The meaning of the writ of ‘Certiorari’ is ‘To be certified’ or ‘To be informed.’
  • A writ of certiorari or a writ in the nature of certiorari can only be issued by the Supreme court under Article 32 and a High court under Article 226 to direct , inferior courts , tribunals or authorities to transmit to the court the record of proceedings disposed of or pending therein for scrutiny , and , if necessary , for quashing the same. But a writ of certiorari can never be issued to call for the record or papers and proceedings of an Act or Ordinance and for quashing such an Act or Ordinance.

Certiorari under Article 226 is issued for correcting a gross error of jurisdiction i.e. when a subordinate court is found to have acted 

  • Without jurisdiction or by assuming jurisdiction where there exists none, or 
  • In excess of its jurisdiction by over stepping or crossing the limits of jurisdiction or 
  • Acting in flagrant disregard of law or rules of procedure or acting in violation of principles of natural justice where there is no procedure specified and thereby occasioning failure of justice.

Sample Questions based on Writs

1. Which writ is issued by the court to enquire into the legality of the claim of a person to a public office?

(a) Quo-Warranto
(b) Mandamus
(c) Certiorari
(d) Prohibition

2.  Which writ is issued by the court to enquire into the legality of the claim of a person to a public office?

(a) Quo-Warranto
(b) Mandamus
(c) Certiorari
(d) Prohibition

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