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Writ - Meaning & Types

Writs - Meaning & Types

The Indian Constitution empowers the Supreme Court & High Court to issue writs. the power to issue writs is primarily a provision made to make available the Right to Constitutional Remedies to every citizen.

Supreme Court of India is empowered to issue writs for enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of Indian Constitution under Article 32.

The Right to Constitutional Remedies, is a guarantor of all other fundamental rights available to the people of India.

The Constitution also provides for the Parliament to confer on the Supreme Court power to issue writs, for purposes 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 under Article 226. Thus, Article 32 empowers the Supreme Court while Article 226 empowers the High Courts to issue writs against any authority of the State in order to enforce the Fundamental rights.

Types of Writs

There are five types of Writs:-
  1. Habeas Corpus
  2. Mandamus
  3. Prohibition
  4. Certiorari
  5. Quo warranto

1. Habeas Corpus

Literal Meaning - "Habeas Corpus" literally means "you may have the body." It is a Latin term.

The writ of "Habeas Corpus"  is issued to produce a person who has been detained, whether in prison or in private custody, before a court and to release him if such detention is found illegal.

The writ of habeas corpus is issued to a detaining authority, ordering the detainer to produce the detained person in the issuing court, along with the cause of his or her detention. If the detention is found to be illegal, the court issues an order to set the person free.

2. Mandamus

Literal Meaning - Mandamus is a Latin word, which means "We Command".

Mandamus is a writ by which an order from the Supreme Court or High Court to a lower court or tribunal or public authority to perform a public or statutory duty.

In other words, This writ of command is issued by the Supreme Court or High court when any government, court, corporation or any public authority has to do a public duty but fails to do so.

Thus, The writ of mandamus is issued to a subordinate court, an officer of government, or a corporation or other institution commanding the performance of certain acts or duties.

3. Certiorari

Literal Meaning - Certiorari literally means "to be certified'.

The writ of certiorari can be issued by the Supreme Court or any High Court for quashing or denying the order already passed by an inferior court, tribunal or quasi judicial authority.

Simply, If any court, tribunal or officer have passed an order acting without jurisdiction or in excess of the Jurisdiction vested by law in them, the writ of certiorari can be issued by the Supreme Court or any High Court for quashing such order.

Certain conditions for the issue of writ of Certiorari:-
  • The court, tribunal or officer must have passed an order acting without jurisdiction or in excess of the Jurisdiction vested by law.
  • The order could also be against the principles of natural justice or the order could contain an error of judgment in appreciating the facts of the case.

4. Prohibition

Literal Meaning - The Writ of prohibition means "to forbid' or "to stop"

This writ is issued when a lower court or a body to stop doing something that they may not do and when a lower court tries to transgress the limits or powers vested in it.

The writ of prohibition is issued by any High Court or the Supreme Court to any inferior court, or quasi judicial body prohibiting the latter from continuing the proceedings in a particular case, where it has no jurisdiction to try. After the issue of this writ, proceedings in the lower court etc. come to a stop.

5. Quo-Warranto

Literal Meaning - The word Quo-Warranto literally means "what is your authority"?

It is a writ issued with a view to restrain a person from holding a public office to which he is not entitled. The writ requires the concerned person to explain to the Court by what authority he holds the office. If a person has usurped a public office, the Court may direct him not to carry out any activities in the office or may announce the office to be vacant.

Thus High Court may issue a writ of quo-warranto if a person holds an office beyond his retirement age.

Certain conditions for the issue of writ of Quo-Warranto:-
  • The office must be public and it must be created by a statue or by the constitution itself.
  • The office must be a substantive one and not merely the function or employment of a servant at the will and during the pleasure of another.
  • There must have been a contravention of the constitution or a statute or statutory instrument, in appointing such person to that office.

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