Writs are orders given by courts to uphold the Fundamental Rights of people (citizen or alien). Writs are written orders issued by the Supreme Court or a High Court directing Indian citizens to pursue constitutional remedies in the event that their basic rights have been violated.
Initially, only the Supreme Court has the authority to grant the writs under Article 32 to any other Court. Although, there has been no such provision made so far by the court of law hence till date only the Supreme Court and the high court has the power to issue the writs. Prior to 1950, under Article 226, only the high courts in Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta had the authority to issue these writs. However, in 1950, all high courts became qualified to do so.
Writs in Indian Constitution
In accordance with Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, a citizen of India may petition the Supreme Court of India and the High Court for constitutional remedies if his or her fundamental rights have been violated. The Supreme Court has the authority to issue writs to enforce rights under the same article, whereas the High Court has the same authority under Article 226. Under the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court and the High Courts can issue the following writs in the interest of the protection of the Fundamental Rights of Citizens.
Types of Writs
There are five types of Writs in Indian Constitution. The Indian Supreme Court is the protector of the people’s fundamental rights. It possesses unique and extensive powers for that. It issues five different types of writs to enforce citizens’ fundamental rights. The five types of writs are:
- Habeas Corpus
- Quo Warranto
Habeas Corpus Writs
Habeas Corpus Writ is issued by the Courts to bring a person in front of the court. Habeas Corpus Writ protects the Fundamental Rights of Liberty people against unlawful detention by the state or private authority. The Latin meaning of Habeas Corpus is ‘to have the body of’.
The following points must be noted with respect to the Habeas Corpus Writ:
- The court can issue it against the state or private authority.
- It cannot be issued when
- Detention is ordered by the court itself.
- Detention is lawful, and is for contempt of court or contempt of the legislature.
Mandamus’ meaning can be translated to ‘We Command’. Thus, it is an order given by Courts to executive authorities to perform certain actions to safeguard the Fundamental Rights of people. A Mandamus writ can be issued against any public body, tribunal, corporation, or lower court.
The following points must be noted with respect to the Mandamus Writ :
- It cannot be issued against private individuals or organizations.
- It cannot be issued to enforce departmental instructions that are not backed statutorily.
- It cannot be issued against the constitutional office of the President or the Governor.
Prohibition translates to ‘to forbid’. Prohibition Writs are issued by the higher courts to the lower courts and the Tribunals when the higher court feels that the lower courts and the Tribunals are going beyond their jurisdiction. It is an order forbidding them to proceed in a particular matter.
The following points must be noted with respect to the Prohibition Writ :
- It is only issued against the lower courts or the tribunals.
Certiorari can be translated to ‘to be certified or informed’. The Court issues this writ to lower courts or tribunals to transfer certain cases pending before them or to quash orders issued by them in certain cases. This is done when the Supreme Court or the High Court feels that the lower court or tribunal has gone beyond its jurisdiction. It is remedial in nature in contrast to Prohibition Writ, which is only preventive in nature.
The following points must be noted with respect to the Certiorari Writ :
- It can even be issued against administrative authorities affecting the Fundamental Rights of people (after the Supreme Court ruling in 1991).
- It cannot be issued against law-making bodies and private individuals or organizations.
Quo Warranto Writs
Quo Warranto can be translated to ‘by what authority or warrant’. Clearly, it is issued by the court to prevent the usurpation of public offices when it violates the fundamental rights of people. Using this, a court questions the claim of an individual over a public office.
The following points must be noted with respect to the Quo Warranto Writ:
- It can be issued only when public offices are created by statutorily or under the Constitution.
- It cannot be issued against the ministerial office.
Writ Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or the High Courts upholds their position as protector of the fundamental rights of people. It complements the fundamental right to constitutional remedies under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. As discussed above, the courts can issue 5 types of writs to bring this into effect.
Historically, writs were called prerogative writs, as they were issued by the crown to remedy under extraordinary situations. Under the modern legal and administrative system, this terminology is not used.
High Court Writs
The following considerations must be made in relation to High Court Writs:
- The High Courts can issue writs not only to enforce fundamental rights but also for other purposes. In this context, they have wider powers compared to the Supreme court.
- Also, the High Court have discretion in issuing writs compared to the Supreme court which must issue writs when fundamental rights are violated.
Who is eligible to file Writs Petition ?
Any India citizen is eligible to file a writ petition if their fundamental rights have been abrogated. It is a legal document issued by a court that directs a person to execute a specified activity or to cease performing a certain act. In order to file a Writ Petition in India, the aggrieved party must go to the courts with writ jurisdiction and state their case. Every citizen has this right. Although there is no time limit in India for filing Writs, there must be a compelling reason for the delay.
Writs are orders given by courts to uphold the fundamental rights of people (citizens or aliens). In the Indian Constitution, there are five types of writs which include Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari and Quo Warranto. Writs can be issued by the Supreme Court and the High Courts against public executive bodies and individual, quasi-judicial bodies, judicial bodies, and private individuals, depending on the type and nature of the writ.
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