A writ is a written command issued by a court that permits or compels another body to perform or refrain from performing a specific task in the way defined by the commanding authority. In India, the notion of the writ is inherited from English law, where they are known as “prerogative writs” since they were issued in the exercise of the King’s prerogative as the “basis of justice.” Later on, the High Courts in England began issuing these writs to protect British citizens’ rights and liberties. In India, the Supreme Court uses five different forms of writs to enforce basic rights.


  • Habeas Corpus – This is the type of writ that is used to defend an individual’s liberty from arbitrary actions by both the state and private individuals.

It is like an order to summon an authority or person to bring a detained person before the court within a certain amount of time. The court looks at the reason for the imprisonment as well as its legality. If the detention is proved to be illegal, the person arrested is released, and thus the bulwark of individual liberty against arbitrary custody is known.

There are certain exceptions to this writ which are as follows-

  1. It can’t be used to stop someone from being detained legally.
  2. If a detention order is issued by a court with the authority to do so.
  3. If the detention is ordered as a result of a court or legislative process for contempt.
  4. If the detention falls outside the court’s jurisdiction.

How can we apply for Habeas Corpus – The authority or person who has detained the person is given a writ of habeas corpus. The prisoner can file a habeas corpus petition, as well as anyone else who isn’t a stranger. Even a letter to the court highlighting the illegality of imprisonment or unlawful detention will be accepted. The court can act suo moto in the interest of justice if it receives any information from anyone.

  • Certiorari – The writ of Certiorari is used to challenge authorities that perform quasi-judicial responsibilities. Certiorari is a judicial order issued by the Supreme Court to an inferior court or any other authority that performs judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative functions to transmit the records of pending proceedings to the court for review and to determine the legality and validity of the order issued by them. The Supreme Court uses this writ to invalidate or quash a decision made by the relevant authorities. Originally intended to be a supervisory jurisdiction over lesser courts, this remedy is now extended to other authorities that perform similar functions. The concept of natural justice and the requirement of fairness inactions have been extended to include administrative judgments in the scope of certiorari. It doesn’t matter anymore whether the decision is judicial or quasi-judicial.

There are certain exceptions to this writ which are as follows-

  1. Private individual bodies
  2. Legislative bodies
  • Mandamus – The writ of mandamus is a judicial solution in the form of an order from the supreme court or high courts to a lower court, government, or other public authority to perform a ‘public duty’ entrusted to them by statute or common law, or to refrain from doing a specific act that that authority is bound to refrain from under the law. A public duty must exist for the writ of mandamus to be granted. The superior courts give the authorization to carry out a public responsibility or to refrain from doing something illegal. Here are certain exceptions to this writ which are as follows –
  1. It can’t be used against a private person or organization.
  2. to enforce any contractual commitment;
  3. against the Indian President
  4. against the state’s governors;
  5. against the Chief Justice of a high court who is also a judge;

Reasons for the denial of mandamus – Mandamus is a public law remedy, hence it can’t be used to enforce contract-based civil liberty. The writ of mandamus cannot be issued if there is an undue delay in submitting the petition and if there is another sufficient alternative remedy.

Mandamus has a more specific aim than certiorari or prohibition. It combines the features of both writs to create a more efficient and effective solution.

  • Prohibition – The base for issuing certiorari and prohibition writs are nearly identical. They share a lot of similarities. A judicial order issued to a constitutional, statutory, or non-statutory entity or person if it exceeds its jurisdiction or attempts to exercise jurisdiction not vested in them is known as a writ of prohibition. It is a general solution for judicial, quasi-judicial, and administrative decisions that impact people’s rights.

Exceptions to this writ – the exceptions to prohibition are similar to that of          Certiorari.

Grounds for Prohibition

  1. Fundamental rights violations
  2. Anti-constitutional statutes or laws
  3. Lack of authority or an overabundance of it
  4. Natural justice principles are being violated
  • Quo Warranto – It is a judicial order against someone who holds a substantive public position but does not have the legal right to do so. The person is required to demonstrate the authority with which he holds the job or office. This writ is intended to remove those from substantive public positions who are not lawfully qualified. The purpose of the writ of Quo warranto is to confirm people’s right to hold public office. In this writ, the court or judiciary examines the executive’s actions about appointments to public offices made in violation of statutory provisions. It also strives to safeguard people who have been stripped of their right to hold public office.


In our country, the judiciary, often known as law, is ultimate. The judicial review of administrative actions is known as a writ jurisdiction. The judiciary is always on the lookout to guarantee that all administrative activities are kept within the bounds of the law. A judicial review looks into something.

  • Has the authority overstepped its bounds?
  • Has the authority infringed on people’s fundamental rights, for example?
  • Has the authority overstepped its bounds?
  • Whether or not the authorities made a legal error.
  • Whether the authority has transgressed natural justice standards.

As a result, writ jurisdictions serve as judicial restrictions on policy actions that are irrational, unfair, or contrary to the public good.

Author’s Name: Rohan Sthanu (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies)

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