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Types of Writs in Indian Constitution with Questions and Answers and MCQs

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The jurisdiction of five types of writs is derived from Article 32 and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, which empowers the Supreme Court and High Courts, respectively, to issue writs for the enforcement of fundamental rights and other legal purposes. Writs in the Indian Constitution constitute written directives issued by the Court, providing constitutional remedies to Indian citizens in case their basic rights are violated. The Indian Constitution provides five types of writs i.e. Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Certiorari, Prohibition, and Quo Warranto. Here we discussed the types of writs in the Indian Constitution.

Types-of-Writs-in-Indian-Constitution

Types of Writs in Indian Constitution

What is the Writ in the Indian Constitution?

A “writ” is a formal written order issued by a court, mainly the Supreme Court and High Court, instructing a person, a public authority, or a lower court to perform a specific action or to refrain from doing it. Writs form an important part of the separation of powers principle in the Indian Constitution, where the judiciary has the authority to review and remedy actions of the executive and legislative branches to ensure the rule of law. The provision helps to maintain the balance between citizens’ rights and the actions of government authorities.

Five Types of Writs in India Constitution

There are five types or nature of writs, these are as follows:

  1. Mandamus
  2. Habeas Corpus
  3. Prohibition
  4. Certiorari
  5. Quo- Warranto

There are five types or nature of writs, these are as follows:

Writ of Mandamus

The meaning of ‘Mandamus’ is ‘we command‘. This writ is issued by a higher court to a lower court, public authority, or individual, directing them to perform a specific legal duty they are obligated to fulfill. It ensures that public officials and authorities carry out their duties in accordance with the law. This writ can not be issued under following conditions:

  • When there is no clear legal duty on the part of the respondent (the person or authority against whom the writ is sought).
  • Against the President of India or Governor of any State.
  • Against the acting Chief Justice of India.
  • If the act in question involves the exercise of discretionary powers by the public official or authority.
  • A Writ of Mandamus is usually directed at public officials or authorities, not private individuals. If the legal duty is related to a private matter, the writ may not be appropriate.

In Kumari Shrilekha Vidyarthi v. the State Of Uttar Pradesh, SC held that public authorities have to work fairly even in contractual matters and if they fail, individuals can approach under Article 226.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

‘Habeas corpus’ is a Latin term and the meaning of ‘Habeas corpus’ is ‘to have the body’. This writ protects the right to personal liberty. It is used to demand that an individual who is detained or imprisoned without lawful authority be presented before the court to verify the legality of the detention.This remedy is available not only against the state but also against the private individual. Generally while granting a writ of Habeas Corpus, the court will not award compensation but in some cases, Court can grant compensation to effectively enforce the right. This writ can not be issued under following conditions:

  • If the detention is lawful.
  • If the detention is issued by the competent court.
  • If the detention is against the person for Contempt of Court or Legislation.

In Rudul Sah vs the State of Bihar, SC observed that compensation is one of the ways in which violation of Article 21 can be avoided/prevented.

Writ of Prohibition

It is a writ of preventive nature. This writ is issued by a higher court to a lower court, tribunal, or quasi-judicial body, prohibiting them from exercising jurisdiction beyond their legal authority or acting in excess of their powers. This writ can not be issued against any private individual, Legislative bodies or administrative authorities.

Writ of Certiorari

The meaning of ‘Certiorari’ is ‘to certify’. This writ is issued by a higher court to a lower court, tribunal, or quasi-judicial body, seeking to quash a particular order or decision if:

  • It is found to be without jurisdiction.
  • It is found to be in excess of jurisdiction.
  • It violates principles of natural justice.

Relation Between Writ of Prohibition and Writ of Certiorari:

These two Complementary Writs are often known as Sister Writs. Both writs are issued against illegal proceedings of subordinate Courts. The only difference between these two writs is that in certiorari, the pronounced illegal judgment is set aside and in prohibition, the writ Court transfers the case to the competent Court while illegal proceedings are pending.

Writ of Quo-Warranto

The meaning of ‘Quo-warranto’ is ‘What is your authority‘. This writ is used to question the legal right or authority of a person holding a public office, challenging their appointment or the legitimacy of their authority to occupy that position. If he has no authority then the person can be ousted from the office. Basically, this writ controls the executive action in the manner of making appointments to public offices. It is essential that the office must be a public office and not a private office. The holder. of the office must assert the claim of office by housing actual occupation.

In Ram Singh Saini v. H.N. Bhargava, 1975 SC said that the Writ of quo warranto only lies for public office and cannot be issued against the private office. 

What are Article 32 and Article 226?

There can be no right without an effective remedy. The fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution would be meaningless if the proper and effective mechanism for its enforcement is not provided. Constitution confers power on the courts to strike down the law which infringes fundamental rights. The importance of Article 32 can be seen from the fact that without this Article, the other fundamental rights would lose their very essence but it can be used against only violation of fundamental rights while Article 226 covers Fundamental rights as well as other purpose. Article 32 & 226 is the heart and soul of the Constitution.

Article 32 reads as follows:

  1. The Individual has the right to move to the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights provided under part III of the Constitution. This means if there is a violation of an individual’s fundamental rights then for enforcement of such fundamental rights he can move directly to the Supreme Court.
  2. The Supreme Court has the power to issue orders or writs, writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred under the Constitution.

Article 226 reads as follows:

  1. The Individual has the right to move to the High Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the fundamental rights provided under Part III of the Constitution and for any other purpose. This means if there is a violation of an individual’s fundamental rights or if a person is aggrieved in any other manner then for enforcement of such rights or such other purpose, he can move directly to the High Court.
  2. Where an application is made by a party or person against whom an interim order is made and he is aggrieved by that such order then the High Court shall dispose of the application within a period of two weeks upon receiving such applications.
  3. The power conferred on the High Court under this article shall not be derogatory of the power conferred on the Supreme Court under Article 32.

Against Whom Writs can be Issued?

Some common entities against whom writs can be issued includes:

  • Government authorities or public officials: Generally, fundamental rights are enforceable against the ‘State‘ and the term ‘State‘ has been defined in Article 12. Therefore, authorities falling within the scope of Article 12 are amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
  • Private individuals: Certain fundamental rights like those mentioned in Articles 17, 23, and 24 which are also available against private individuals. In such cases, the writ can be issued to private individuals as well. [People’s Union of Democratic Rights v. Union of India]
  • Lower Courts or Tribunals: Writs like certiorari and prohibition can be issued against lower courts or tribunals if their decisions are found to be erroneous, without jurisdiction, or violating the principles of natural justice.
  • Quasi-Judicial Bodies: Writs can be directed at quasi-judicial bodies if they are acting beyond their legal jurisdiction.

To understand the Writs first we have to know where it is mentioned and what it is the purpose of writs to be in the Indian Constitution. The term Writ is used in Article 32 and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.

Difference Between Writ Jurisdiction of Supreme Court Vs. High Court

The difference between the writ Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Court are as follows:

FeaturesSupreme CourtHigh Court
Origin of JurisdictionArticle 32 of the Article 226 of the
Indian Constitution.Indian Constitution.
Nature of JurisdictionHas both original andHave appellate,
appellate jurisdiction.writ, and supervisory jurisdiction.
Original Jurisdiction Issue writs onlyIssue writs and
for the enforcement ofentertain petitions for the
fundamental rights.enforcement of fundamental rights.
Appellate JurisdictionHears appeals from High Courts,Hears appeals from lower courts and
and certain matters as per thetribunals within its jurisdiction.
Constitution.
Limited Territorial ScopeNationwide jurisdiction,Jurisdiction limited to a specific state
including union territories.or a group of states (each High Court).
HierarchyHighest court in India.One High Court for each state in

MCQs or Quiz on Writs of Indian Constitution

1. Which writ is invoked to protect personal liberty and is often used to challenge illegal detention?

  1. Certiorari
  2. Habeas Corpus
  3. Mandamus
  4. Quo Warranto

Answer: 2. Habeas Corpus

2. Which writ is issued by a higher court to prevent a lower court or tribunal from exceeding its jurisdiction?

  1. Certiorari
  2. Prohibition
  3. Mandamus
  4. Habeas Corpus

Answer: 2. Prohibition

3. What is the primary purpose of a writ of certiorari?

  1. To protect personal liberty
  2. To compel the performance of a public duty
  3. To quash an order
  4. To challenge an election result

Answer: 3. To quash an order

4. Under which writ can an individual challenge the legality of administrative actions that violate principles of natural justice?

  1. Mandamus
  2. Certiorari
  3. Quo Warranto
  4. Habeas Corpus

Answer: 2. Certiorari

5. In which situation would a writ of mandamus be applicable?

  1. Protection against illegal detention
  2. Preventing an unlawful assembly
  3. Compelling the performance of a public duty
  4. Challenging an election result

Answer: 3. Compelling the performance of a public duty

6. Which writ is used to challenge a person’s right to hold a public office?

  1. Certiorari
  2. Quo Warranto
  3. Prohibition
  4. Habeas Corpus

Answer: 2. Quo Warranto

7. What does the writ of prohibition aim to prevent?

  1. A) Illegal detention
  2. B) Exceeding jurisdiction by a lower court
  3. C) Unlawful assembly
  4. D) Violation of fundamental rights

Answer: B) Exceeding jurisdiction by a lower court

8. Under which writ can a person seek relief against unlawful assembly or action that violates fundamental rights?

  1. Certiorari
  2. Prohibition
  3. Habeas Corpus
  4. Mandamus

Answer: 3. Habeas Corpus

9. When can a writ of prohibition be issued?

  1. To challenge an election result
  2. To prevent an unlawful assembly
  3. To seek compensation for a violation of rights
  4. To stop a lower court from exceeding its jurisdiction

Answer: 4. To stop a lower court from exceeding its jurisdiction

10. Which writ is primarily concerned with preventing the abuse of legal processes?

  1. Certiorari
  2. Mandamus
  3. Prohibition
  4. Quo Warranto

Answer: 1. Certiorari

Questions and Answers on Five Types of Writs of Indian Constitution

1. What are writs in the Indian Constitution?

Answer:

Writs in the Indian Constitution are legal orders issued by the Supreme Court and High Courts to protect fundamental rights, ensure justice, and maintain the rule of law. They are powerful tools for individuals to seek remedies in cases of violations of rights or abuse of authority.

2. How many types of writs are there in the Indian Constitution?

Answer:

There are five main types of writs in the Indian Constitution: Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Certiorari, Prohibition, and Quo Warranto. Each writ serves a specific purpose and is designed to address different legal situations.

3. Can writs be issued against private individuals?

Answer:

Writs are typically issued against public officials, government authorities, or entities acting in a public capacity. However, in certain cases where fundamental rights are involved or matters of public interest are at stake, writs may be considered against private individuals or entities.

4. What constitutional articles provide the basis for writ jurisdiction?

Answer:

The writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is derived from Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, while the High Courts exercise their writ jurisdiction under Article 226. These articles empower the courts to issue writs for the enforcement of fundamental rights and other legal remedies.



Last Updated : 17 Jan, 2024
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