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Types of Writs In Indian Constitution

The supreme court, and High courts have power to issue writs in the nature of habeas corpus , quo warranto , mandamus , certiorari ,prohibition etc., under Arts. 32 and 226 respectively. These writs have been borrowed in India from England where they had a long chequered history of development and consequently have gathered a number of technicalities. Power to issue writs is primarily a provision made to make available the Right to Constitutional Remedies to every citizen . The right to constitutional remedies as we know is a guarantor of all other fundamental rights available to the people of India. In addition to the above , 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:

There are five types of writs:
  1. Habeas Corpus:

    The latin term habeas corpus means ‘you must have the body ‘ and a writ for securing the liberty was called habeas corpus ad subjiciendum. 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 Art. 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.

    Habeas corpus cannot be granted where a person has been committed to custody under an order from a competent court when prima facie the order does not appear to be without jurisidiction or wholly illegal . 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 such circumstances it is the duty of the police to make necessary efforts to see tht the detention is got released but , if despite such efforts , if a person is not found , the police cannot be put under undue pressure to do impossible.

    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.
  2. Quo Warranto:

    The term quowarrantomeans 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 . The writ 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 . The writ proceedings not only give a weapon to control the executive from making appointments to public office against law but also tend to protect the public from being deprived of public office to which it has a right.

    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 . It is the person against whom writ of quo warranto is directed , who is required to show by what authority the person is entitled to hold the office . While issuing such a writ , the High court merely makes a public declaration of the illegality of the appointment and will not consider other factors , which may be relevant for issuance of a writ of certiorari.
  3. Mandamus

    Mandamusis a command issued by a court to an authority directing it to perform a public duty imposed upon it by law . For example , when a body omits to decide a matter which it is bound to decide , it can be commanded to decide the same.

    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 �" 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 . When an authority fails in its legal duty to implement an order of a tribunal, mandamus can be issued directing the authority to do so . Thus , when the appellate transport tribunal accepted the applications of the petitioner for grant of permits, mandamus was issued to the concerned authority to issue the permits to the petitioner in terms or the tribunal order .Mandamus is issued to enforce a mandatory duty which may not necessarily be a statutory duty.

    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.
  4. Certiorari and Prohibition

    These writs are designed to prevent the excess of power by public authorities . Formerly these writs were issued only to judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. Certiorari and Prohibition are regarded as general remedies for the judicial control of both quasi judicial and administrative decisions affecting rights.

    Certiorar is a latin word being passive form of word certiorari� meaning inform . A writ of certiorari or a writ in the nature of certiorari can only be issued by the Supreme court under Art. 32 and a High court under Art. 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 Art. 226 is issued for correcting gross error of jurisdiction i.e. when a subordinate court is found to have acted:
  1. Without jurisdiction or by assuming jurisdiction where there exists none, or
  2. In excess of its jurisdiction by over stepping or crossing the limits of jurisdiction or
  3. 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.

A writ of prohibition is normally issued when inferior court or tribunal:
  1. Proceeds to act without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction
  2. Proceeds to act in violation of rules of natural justice or
  3. Proceeds to act under a law which is itself ultra vires or unconstitutional or (d) proceeds to act in contravention of fundamental rights.

There is a fundamental distinction between writs of prohibition and certiorari. They are issued at different stages of proceedings . When an inferior court takes up a hearing for a matter over which it has no jurisdiction , the person against whom hearing is taken can move the superior court for writ of prohibition on which order would be issued forbidding the inferior court from continuing the proceedings.

On the other hand if the court hears the matter and gives the decision , the party would need to move to superior court to quash the decision / order on the ground of want of jurisdiction.

These writs are issued on the following grounds : when the authority is acting or has acted under an invalid law; jurisdictional error; error apparent on the face of record ; findings of fact not supported by the evidence ; failure of natural justice.

These are the five types of writs which were issued by the Supreme court and High court under Arts. 32 and 226 of the constitution .Habeas corpus and Quo warranto being confined to specific situations, Certiorari and Mandamus are the two most commonly sought writs to control the actions of administrative bodies.

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