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Types of writs

                                                     Types of writs.

Fundamental Rights are contained in Part III of the Indian Constitution including the right to equality, right to life and liberty etc. Merely providing for Fundamental Rights is not sufficient. It is essential that these Fundamental Rights are protected and enforced as well. To protect Fundamental Rights the Indian Constitution, under Articles 32 and 226, provides the right to approach the Supreme Court or High Court, respectively, to any person whose Fundamental Right has been violated. At the same time, the two articles give the right to the highest courts of the country to issue writs in order to enforce Fundamental Rights.

                                                        Types of Writs

There are five types of Writs as provided under Article 32 of the Constitution:

1. Habeas Corpus:

It is one of the important writs for personal liberty which says “You have the Body”. The main purpose of this writ is to seek relief from the unlawful detention of an individual. It is for the protection of the individual from being harmed by the administrative system and it is for safeguarding the freedom of the individual against arbitrary state action which violates fundamental rights under articles 19, 21 & 22 of the Constitution. This writ provides immediate relief in case of unlawful detention.

       Writ of Habeas Corpus is issued if an individual is kept in jail or under a private care without any authority of law. A criminal who is convicted has the right to seek the assistance of the court by filing an application for “writ of Habeas Corpus” if he believes that he has been wrongfully imprisoned and the conditions in which he has been held falls below minimum legal standards for human treatment. The court issues an order against prison warden who is holding an individual in custody in order to deliver that prisoner to the court so that a judge can decide whether or not the prisoner is lawfully imprisoned and if not then whether he should be released from custody.

2. Quo Warranto. 

Writ of Quo Warranto implies thereby “By what means”. This writ is invoked in cases of public offices and it is issued to restrain persons from acting in public office to which he is not entitled to. Although the term ‘office’ here is different from ‘seat’ in legislature but still a writ of Quo Warranto can lie with respect to the post of Chief Minister holding a office whereas a writ of quo warranto cannot be issued against a Chief Minister, if the petitioner fails to show that the minister is not properly appointed or that he is not qualified by law to hold the office. It cannot be issued against an Administrator who is appointed by the government to manage Municipal Corporation, after its dissolution. Appointment to public office can be challenged by any person irrespective of the fact whether his fundamental or any legal right has been infringed or not.

In the case of Ashok Pandey v. Mayawati, the writ of Quo Warranto was refused against Ms Mayawati (CM) and other ministers of her cabinet even though they were Rajya Sabha members.

3. Mandamus

Writ of Mandamus means “We Command” in Latin. This writ is issued for the correct performance of mandatory and purely ministerial duties and is issued by a superior court to a lower court or government officer. However, this writ cannot be issued against the President and the Governor. Its main purpose is to ensure that the powers or duties are not misused by the administration or the executive and are fulfilled duly. It safeguards the public from the misuse of authority by the administrative bodies. The mandamus is “neither a writ of course nor a writ of right but that it will be granted if the duty is in nature of public duty and it especially affects the right of an individual, provided there is no more appropriate remedy”. The person applying for mandamus must be sure that he has the legal right to compel the opponent to do or refrain from doing something.

Conditions for issue of Mandamus

  • There must rest a legal right of the applicant for the performance of the legal duty.

  • The nature of the duty must be public.

  • On the date of the petition, the right which is sought to be enforced must be subsisting.

  • The writ of Mandamus is not issued for anticipatory injury.

4. Certiorari

Writ of Certiorari means to be certified. It is issued when there is a wrongful exercise of the jurisdiction and the decision of the case is based on it. The writ can be moved to higher courts like the High Court or the Supreme Court by the affected parties.

    There are several grounds for the issue of Writ of Certiorari. Certiorari is not issued against purely administrative or ministerial orders and that it can only be issued against judicial or quasi-judicial orders. It is issued to quasi-judicial or subordinate courts if they act in the following ways:

  • Either without any jurisdiction or in excess.

  • In violation of the principles of Natural Justice.

  • In opposition to the procedure established by law.

  • If there is an error in judgement on the face of it.

5. Prohibition

It is a writ directing a lower court to stop doing something which the law prohibits it from doing. Its main purpose is to prevent an inferior court from exceeding its jurisdiction or from acting contrary to the rules of Natural Justice.

         It is issued to a lower or a subordinate court by the superior courts in order to refrain it from doing something which it is not supposed to do as per law. It is usually issued when the lower courts act in excess of their jurisdiction. Also, it can be issued if the court acts outside its jurisdiction. And after the writ is issued, the lower court is bound to stop its proceedings and should be issued before the lower court passes an order. Prohibition is a writ of preventive nature. The principle of this is ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

In case of East India Commercial Co. Ltd v. Collector of Customs, a writ of prohibition was passed directing an inferior Tribunal prohibiting it from continuing with the proceeding on the ground that the proceeding is without or in excess of jurisdiction or in contradiction with the laws of the land, statutes or otherwise.


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