LAW NOTES: WRITS

The  Constitution  of  India  assured  greater  protection  of  individuals  rights  and  afforded  larger  freedom  to  the  court  to look into executive  failures.  The  judiciary  has provided various measures in preserving  the  liberty  and freedom of the people of the country   Each  citizen  of  India  has inherent  right  to  challenge  the  constitutionality  of  any  executive  enactment  restrains him from enjoying his fundamental rights.   By  judicial  interpretations  the  fundamental  rights,  distribution   of   executive  powers  and  other  constitutional  restrictions  and  limitations  were  provided  a  new  meaning.  The  fundamental  object  of  judicial  review  is  to  infuse  life  in  the  dry  and  abstract  postulates  of  the constitution  enabling  it  to  be  a  living  organism  so as  to satisfy  the needs of the  time.

Articles  32 and  226  of  the  Indian  Constitution  makes  provisions  for    writs  in  the  country.   Under   clause  (2) of  Article  32  the  Supreme  Court  is  empowered  to  issue  appropriate  direction,  orders  or  writs,  including   writs  in the nature of habeas  corpus, mandamus,  prohibition  quo warranto  and  certiorari  for  the  enforcement   of  any  fundamental  rights guaranteed  by Art  III of  the  constitution.  By  this article  the Supreme Court  has been  constituted  as  a  protector  and guarantor  of the fundamental  rights  and once  a  citizen  has  shown  that  there  is  infringement  of  his  fundamental  right  the court  cannot  refuse  to  entertain  petitions  seeking  enforcement  of  fundamental  rights.   Article  226(1)  empowers  every  High  Court,  notwithstanding   anything   in   Article 32,  throughout  the  territories  in  relation  to  which  it  exercises  jurisdiction  to  issue  any  person  or  authority,  including  appropriate  cases  any  government,  within  those  territories  directions,  orders  or  writs  including  writs  in  the  nature  of habeas  corpus, mandamus,  quo  warranto,  prohibition  and  certiorari  for  the  enforcement  of Fundamental  Rights  or for any other  purpose.

I. Habeas Corpus

The expression “Habeas Corpus” is a Latin term which means ‘to have the body’. If a person is detained unlawfully, his relatives or friends or any person can move the Court by filing an application under Article 226 in High Court or under Article 32 in Supreme Court for the writ of Habeas Corpus.

The main objective of this writ is to provide immediate remedy to person unlawfully detained, whether in prison or private custody. The detention becomes unlawful if a person who is arrested is not produced before the magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest. Also the law under which the person is detained must be lawful, if the law itself is unlawful then the detention is also unlawful.

The scope of the writ of habeas corpus has considerably increased by virtue of the decision of the Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India[1] and also by the adoption of forty-fourth amendment to the Constitution. Since the judicial interpretation of Article 21 has extended the magnitude of the concept of the personal liberty and the Court introduced the element -of fairness and justness in the ‘procedure established by law’, now a writ of habeas corpus would lie if the law depriving a person of his personal liberty is not fair, just and equitable.

II. Mandamus

The  word  “mandamus”  means  “the  order”.   The  writ  of  mandamus  is  thus  an  order  by  a  superior  court  commanding  a  person  or  a  public  authority  (including  the  Government  and  public  corporation)  to  do  or  forbear  to  do  something  in  the;  nature of public duty or  in  certain cases of a statutory  duty.

This  writ  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 purpose of this writ is to restrict the public authorities to work within their powers.

Conditions for the  issue of writ of mandamus:-

  • The Petitioner must have legal rights .
  • A Legal duty must have been imposed on the authority and the performance of the duty should be necessary. Such duty must be statutory either imposed by the Constitution or by any other statute or or some rule of common law but should not be contractual. If public authority invested with discretionary power abuses the power or exceeds it, or act malafide or there is non-application of mind by it or irrelevant considerations have been taken into account the writ of mandamus can be issued.
  • An Application for mandamus must have been made in good faith and not for any ulterior motive. It will not be issued if designed to harass the respondent or with a view to cause personal grievances.

III. Prohibition

The expression ‘prohibition’ literally means ‘to prohibit’. The Writ of Prohibition is a Judicial order issued by the Supreme Court or a High Court to an inferior Court or quasi-judicial body forbidding the latter to continue proceedings therein in excess of its jurisdiction or to usurp a jurisdiction with which it is not legally vested. Thus, object of the writ is to compel inferior courts to keep themselves within the limits of their jurisdiction.

Earlier, this writ was used to issue only to judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. But such requirement is no longer valid. With the expanding dimensions of natural justice and the requirement of fairness in administrative functions, the rigidity about prohibition has been liberalized. This writ can now lie to anybody, irrespective of the nature of function exercised by it, if any of the grounds on which the writ is issued is present.

IV.  Certiorari

Certiorari is a writ issued from a superior court to an inferior court or tribunal commanding the latter to send up the record of a particular case. Literally, Certiorari means to be certified. The Writ of Certiorari can be issued by the Supreme Court or any High Court for quashing the order already passed by an inferior court. In other words, while the prohibition is available at the earlier stage, Certiorari is available on similar grounds at a later stage.

V. Quo-Warranto:

The word Quo-Warranto literally means “by what warrants?” It is a writ issued with a view to restraining a person from acting in a public office to which he is not entitled. The Writ of quo-warranto is used to prevent illegal assumption of any public office or usurpation of any public office by anybody. For example, a person of 62 years has been appointed to fill a public office whereas the retirement age is 60 years. Now, the appropriate High Court has a right to issue a Writ of quo-warranto against the person and declare the office vacant.

Scope of Article  32

Article  32  provides  a quick and immediate remedy  for  the  enforcement  of  Fundamental  Rights. Any person may for  the violation of  any  of  his  Fundamental  Rights  by  an  administrative  action  can  go  straight  to  the  Supreme  Court, without  being  required  to  undergo  the  dilatory  proceedings  from  the  lower  to  a  higher  court  as  one  has  to  do  in  any  ordinary  litigation.

The  Supreme  Court  has  thus  been  constituted, as  the  protector  and  guarantor  of  Fundamental  Rights.  Article  32 is itself  of  a Fundamental  Rights  and  cannot  therefore , be diluted  or whittled  down  by  legislation,  and  can  be invoked  over when  a law declares  a particular  administrative  action  as  final.

Scope of Article 226 and 227

Writs under Article 226 have to be issued in grave cases where the subordinate tribunal or bodies or officers act wholly without jurisdiction, or in excess of it, or in violation of the principles of natural justice or refuse to exercise a jurisdiction vested in them, or there is an error apparent on the face of the record and such act, omission, error, or excess has resulted in manifest injustice.[2] The High Court in its Writ jurisdiction cannot act as a Court of Appeal against the orders of the State Governments or Union or other authorities.

Difference Between Article 32 and Article 226

  1. The rights guaranteed by Article 32 can only be exercised for the enforcement of fundamental rights only whereas the rights conferred under Article 226 of the constitution can be exercised not only for the enforcement of fundamental rights but for ‘any other purpose’. The expression ‘and for any other purpose’ in Article 226 will include the enforcement of ordinary legal right which do not amount to fundamental rights.[3]  Thus the power under Article 226 are wider than those under Article 32.
  2. The order under Article 32 will Supersede the order passed by the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution previously.

An application under Article 226 may always be made first to Supreme Court since Article 32 is itself a Fundamental Right. It is Substantive right not a mere procedural right. There is no need to resort to High Court Before Approaching to the Supreme Court under Article 32.

Case Laws

In the case of Basheshwar Nath v. Commissioner, Income Tax[4], the court held that, “A large majority of people are socially poor educationally backward and politically yet not conscious of their rights, cannot be pitted against the state or the institution or they cannot be put on equal status with the state or large organisations. The people are requires to be protected from themselves. It is therefore the duty of the court to protect their rights and interests. Fundamental rights are therefore transcendental in nature and created and enacted in national and public interest and therefore they cannot be waived.”

In Daryao v. State of U.P.[5] , it was held that the right to obtain a writ must equally be a fundamental right when a petitioner presents the case. Thus, it cannot merely be considered as an individual’s right to move the Supreme Court but it is also the duty and responsibility of the Supreme Court to protect the fundamental rights.

In Collector of Central Excise v. Dunlop India Ltd[6], the Supreme Court held that Article 226 is not meant to short-circuit or circumvent statutory procedures. It is only where statutory remedies are entirely ill-suited to meet the demands of extraordinary situations, as for instance where the vires of the statute is in question or where private or public wrongs are inextricably linked and the prevention of public injury and the vindication of public justice require it, that recourse may be had to Article 226 of the Constitution. A writ will not ordinarily be issued by the Court where the impugned order, not patently erroneous, is made by an authority within his jurisdiction.

[1] AIR 1978 SC 597

[2] G.Veerappa Pillai vs. Raman and Raman Ltd.), AIR 1952 SC 192

[3] Jeshingbhai Ishwarlal vs Emperor, Air 1950 Bom 363

[4] [1955] 1 S.C.R. 448

[5] AIR 1959 SC 276

[6] AIR 1985 SC 330

Anshuman Goyal, 5th Year, BBA LLB(Hons.), School of Law, KIIT University

Posted in LAW NOTE AND PPT and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *