Writ Petitions – Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari, Quo warranto & PILs


Right to Constitutional Remedies

As per the Right to Constitutional Remedies-Articles 32-35, A citizen has a right to move to the courts for securing the fundamental rights and legal rights. Citizens can go to the Supreme Court or the High Courts for getting their fundamental rights and legal rights enforced.

Any citizen can file a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India (as provided by article 32 of the Constitution) if it is the nature of violation of fundamental rights, whereas any person can file a Writ Petition in the High Court (as provided by Article 226 of the Constitution) if it is a violation of not only fundamental rights but also where legal rights have been infringed.

Thus, the scope of High Courts is more than the Supreme Court of India as High Courts are also empowered to entertain the Writ Petitions of legal rights as well.

Writ Petitions

The types of Writs are as follows :

Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus means “to have the body“. It is in the nature of an order calling upon a person who has unlawfully detained another person to produce the latter before the court. Thus, where “A” has been unlawfully detained by a person “B”.

A Writ of Habeas Corpus in nature can be filed under article 226 in the High Court. For example cases of kidnapping are also of nature of unlawful detention of a person.

Mandamus

Mandamus literally means “Command”. It is thus an order of a superior court commanding a person holding a public office or a public authority- (including the Government) to do or not to do something, in the nature of public duty.

Thus, where a police officer not filing FIR of a victim can be directed by the superior court to file a FIR and take suitable action on the complaint so lodged.

Prohibition

A Writ of Prohibition is issued by a superior court to an inferior court or tribunal to prevent it from exceeding its jurisdiction and to compel it to keep within the limits of its jurisdiction.

Thus, where an inferior court gives an award on a case on which it cannot hold a trail because it is outside the jurisdiction of that court, a superior court may direct the inferior court to forward the case to the right court or the superior court on the writ petition being filed of the nature of prohibition.

Certiorari

A Writ of Certiorari has much in common with a Writ of Prohibition. The only difference between the two is, whereas a writ of prohibition is issued to prevent an inferior court or tribunal to go ahead with the trial of a case in which it has assumed excess of jurisdiction, a writ of certiorari is issued to quash the order passed by an inferior court or tribunal in excess of jurisdiction.

Quo Warranto

The words quo warranto means “what is your authority”? A writ of Quo Warranto is issued against the holder of a public office to show to the court under what authority he holds the office.

Thus, where a person claims to be customs commissioner can be asked by the court to show up his/her authority for the office being so claimed, under the writ petition being filed of nature of Quo Warranto.

A citizen has a right to move the Courts for securing the fundamental rights and legal rights enforced by filling a Writ Petition. There are five Types of Writs.

 

These are – Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari and Quo- Warranto.

Public Interest Litigation (PIL)

The concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is in consonance with the objects enshrined in Article 39A of the Constitution of India to protect and deliver prompt social justice with the help of law before the 1980s, only the aggrieved party could approach the courts for justice. Thus, anyone not necessarily the victim may approach court of law to protect the public interest at large.

The officer(s) of court or court itself may take up any matter suo moto in order to protect the public interest at large. An obvious question that comes in our mind is that “what is public interest?” The answer to this question is ‘any act for the benefit of public is public interest.’ and those act(s) are such as pollution, terrorism, road safety, constructional hazards, chemical hazards etc.

In all these activities we can clearly see that the public interest at large is involved. Some of the very well-known cases being filed under this clause are PILs against various sport federations after the commonwealth games scam and other issues.

‘Shubhash Kumar V State of Bihar’.

In this case there was a person, who was fired by the Director of the Company so he filed a PIL that this company is acting something wrong so this should be tried.

‘Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra’.

In this case, on receiving a letter from the petitioner, a journalist, the Supreme Court took notice of the complaint of custodial violence to women prisoners in the lock-up in the city of Bombay.

The Concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is in consonance with the objects enshrined in Article 39-A of the Constitution of India to protect and deliver prompt Social Justice with the help of Law.

 

Anyone, not necessarily the victim may approach the courts of law to protect the public interest at large or the court may take up any matter ‘suo-moto’ in order to protect the public interest at large.


Questions

List the five types of ‘Writs’.

There are Five Types of ‘writs’. There are :
(i) Habeas Corpus
(ii) Mandamus
(iii) Prohibition
(iv) Certiorari
(v) Quo Warranto

Define Writ of ‘Habeas Corpus’.

‘Habeas Corpus’ means “to have the body”. It is the nature of an order of a Superior Court calling upon a person who has unlawfully detained another person to produce the latter before the Court.

Define the concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

The concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is in consonance with the objects enshrined in Article 39-A of the Constitution of India to protect and deliver prompt social justice with the help of law. Any person or the ‘victim’ may approach the court of Law to protect the public interest at large. Court may also force ‘suo moto’ notice in order to protect the public interest at large.

List some areas where Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has played an important role in India.

(a) Pollution;
(b) Road Safety’
(c) Chemical hazards’
(d) Constructional hazards; and
(e) Terrorism


Acknowledgement : This article is adapted from Swayam-NIOS course material.

Writ Petitions Habeas Corpus Mandamus Prohibition Certiorari Quo warranto Public Interest Litigation LawMint For LLB and LLM students