Writ Jurisdiction of High Courts

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The Allahabad High Court recently refused to exercise its writ jurisdiction in a petition seeking compliance of a Supreme Court order.

About Writ Jurisdiction of High Courts:

  • According to Articles 12-35 of the Indian Constitution, every citizen is given a number of Fundamental rights.
  • Article 32 and Article 226 provide a remedy for the protection of fundamental rights by allowing the Supreme Court and the High Court’s, respectivelyto issue writs when a citizen's basic rights are violated.
  • It allows the courts to issue formal orders to the authorities in cases of violations of fundamental rights by government authorities or government bodies. 
  • Article 226 empowers the High Courts to issue writs not only fothe enforcement of fundamental rights but also for any other legal right. Thus, writ jurisdiction of the High Court is wider than that of Supreme Court (SC) because the SC can issue writs only for the enforcement of fundamental rights under Article 32.
  • The remedy provided under Article 226 of the Constitution is a discretionary remedy of the court and thereby cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
  • Thus, unlike the Supreme Court, which must issue writs when fundamental rights are violated (since the right to approach the SC in case of a violation of a Fundamental Right is in itself a Fundamental Right), the High Court has discretion when granting writs.
  • Under Article 226, a writ petition can be filed before any High Court within whose jurisdiction the cause of action arises, either wholly or in part.
  • It is immaterial if the authority against whom the writ petition is filed is within the territory or not


Types of writs mentioned in the Indian Constitution:

  • Habeas Corpus:
    • ‘Habeas Corpus’ literally means “to have a body of”.
    • This writ is used to release a person who has been unlawfully detained or imprisoned.
    • By virtue of this writ, the Court directs the person so detained to be brought before it to examine the legality of his detention.
    • If the Court concludes that the detention was unlawful, then it directs the person to be released immediately. 
  • Mandamus:
    • Mandamus’ means ‘we command’.
    • It is issued by the Court to direct a public authority to perform the legal duties which it has not or refused to perform. 
    • It can be issued by the Court against a public official, public corporation, tribunal, inferior court or the government.
    • It cannot be issued against a private individual or body, the President or Governors of States, or against a working Chief Justices.
  • Prohibition:
    • It is issued by the High Court or the Supreme Court to the subordinate court or the tribunal to prevent them from exceeding their jurisdiction which hasn’t been vested upon them under the law.
    • It cannot be applied to statutory bodies, administrative agencies, or private individuals or businesses.
    • Only judicial and quasi-judicial organisations are subject to it.
  • Certiorari:
    • It is issued by the High Court or the Supreme Court to the judicial or quasi-judicial authorities when such authority passes the order without having jurisdiction in such case, exceeding the jurisdiction conferred upon it, or when it violates the principle of natural justice. 
    • It is issued against a lower court or tribunal in order to transfer the matter to another superior body for careful consideration.
  • Quo Warranto:
    • It is issued by the court to inquire into the legality of the claim made by the person who is holding a public office.
    • The ministerial office cannot be the target of it.
    • This writ is used to determine who has the legal authority to hold a public office in the event of a disagreement. 


Q1) What are legal rights?

Legal rights are the rights that are given to the citizens of a country by the government to enjoy certain freedoms. These rights affect every citizen. There is no remedy for the infringement of these except for the law itself. Legal rights can be differentiated from moral rights or natural rights or even fundamental rights. E.g. Right to vote, right to sue.

Source: High Court Cannot Exercise Writ Jurisdiction To Have Supreme Court Judgment Complied With: Allahabad HC