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The Writs in Indian Constitution

 The Writs in Indian Constitution

The Amendments to the constitution can be made only by an Act of the Parliament and in no other manner. Curious to know more? Read on.

Introduction

A writ is a formal written order by the court to an individual, organization, or the state. They command the constitutional remedies against the violation of people’s fundamental rights. Articles 32 and 226 of our Indian Constitution enable Indian citizens to move to the high courts or the Supreme Court in case of violation of their fundamental rights. The article also gives power to the Supreme court to issue writs for enforcement of the fundamental rights of people. The State High Courts can also issue writs under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.

Writs and their types:

There are a total of 5 writs that can be issued by the State High Courts or the Supreme Court of India. These include:

  • Habeas Corpus
  • Mandamus
  • Prohibition
  • Certiorari
  • Quo-Warranto

Habeas Corpus Writ: Habeas Corpus is Latin for “To find the Body of”. This writ is issued by the courts to physically bring a person detained or confined by an individual, organization, or even the Police Department. The court would listen to the case and assess the grounds on which the person has been detained or confined. If the court acquits them or if the court realizes unlawful detention or confinement of the person, they are set free. A Habeas Corpus writ is issued by the courts under the following circumstances:

  • When the person is unlawfully arrested
  • When the person is detained to intentionally cause harm
  • The arrested individual is not produced before the magistrate within 24 hours
  • If the person is arrested without any violation of law.

Mandamus Writ: The word ‘Mandamus’ means ‘We Command’. The Mandamus writ is issued by courts to public officials, institutions, inferior courts, or the government to perform duties they have refused to perform. This writ is issued when government bodies or employees are found to be not performing their duties. The Mandamus writ cannot be issued against private individuals and companies, discretionary and non-mandatory duties, presidents and working chief justice. 

Prohibition Writ: This writ is issued by the Supreme Court and the High Courts to inferior judicial bodies against acting beyond their jurisdiction. Unlike the Mandamus writ, this can only be issued to judicial and quasi-judicial authorities. This writ is popularly known as ‘Stay Order’ from the courts. It prevents judicial bodies from continuing proceedings in a case and also prevents individuals or the government from public activities like construction, demolition, or the initiation of new projects. 

Certiorari Writ: The word Certiorari means, ‘To Certify’ or ‘To Inform’.  It is issued by the Supreme court to tribunals and courts with lower authority to transfer a pending case or to scrap their order in a particular case, owing to errors in law. The Certiorari writ is issued on jurisdictional issues or to correct errors in judgments. An interesting fact about this writ is that before 1991, the writ could only be issued to the judicial and quasi-judicial authorities, like the Prohibition writ. But after 1991, the Certiorari writ could be issued to both the judicial and administrative authorities. Another important fact about the certiorari writ is that it can be issued only after reaching a verdict or judgment, unlike the Prohibition writ, which can be issued during proceedings of a case. 

Quo-Warranto Writ: Literally, Quo-Warranto means, ‘On what Warrant’. This writ is issued to individuals holding a public office. It is issued to restrain individuals from holding public offices, which they are not entitled to hold. Upon issuing the quo-warranto writ, the individual in question needs to explain his qualification and authority to hold a public office. In instances where individuals usurp public offices or continue their term beyond their retirement age, the Supreme Court or the High Courts may issue a quo-warranto writ or even announce the office to be vacant. Conditions for the issuance of Quo-Warranto writ are:

The concerned individual must be holding a public office, created by the state or the Indian Constitution. 

The concerned office must be a substantive office and a clear contravention of the Indian Constitution, state, or statutory instrument must be proved.

Conclusion

Writs are formal written petitions given by the courts to enforce the right to constitutional remedies in instances of fundamental rights violation. The Supreme Courts and High Courts of India are authorized by Article 32 and Article 226 respectively from the Indian constitution. It is interesting to note that writs were adopted from the British law, in which they were known as “Prerogative Writs”.