The Writ Petition

What is a Writ?

A writ is a formal written order or command given by an administrative or judicial body. In modern times it refers to a court. Common examples include Warrants and subpoenas. The power of issuing a writ is assigned to the High Courts under article 226 and to the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the constitution. Under these articles, an individual has the right to appeal to the courts for protection of his Fundamental Rights. A writ petition is a little different.

The Writ Petition

The constitution of our country bestows certain rights upon its individuals eg- Right to equality, Right to freedom, etc. A writ petition is an appeal made in the court (both high court and supreme court) by an individual or a group on behalf of himself or in some cases it can be made on behalf of some other person. Usually, a writ petition is filed against state and government agencies but, can also be issued against private authorities in case they are discharging public functions.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of writs, what they mean and when and how they are exercised.

There are five types of writs:

  • Quo warranto
  • Habeas corpus
  • Mandamus
  • Prohibition
  • Certiorari

Quo Warranto

Quo Warranto means “by what warrant”. The constitution of India grants some powers to various organizations or individuals which help them carry out tasks on behalf of the public. If such an individual or organization acts beyond the powers a Quo Warranto can be issued. This is a prerogative writ which directs them to show what authority they have for exercising some right, power, or franchise they claim to hold. The writ is meant only for the public organizations No private institutions are included.

Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus has been derived from Latin and literally means ‘Let us have the body’. The body here refers to the physical representation of a person in the court i.e. summoning or his release if he is found to be illegally detained or imprisoned. The writ of Habeas Corpus can be filed by the detained person himself, a friend, a relative or anyone close to him. It can be issued against a public authority or an individual


Mandamus literally means ‘we command’. This writ is an order issued by an upper court to a lower court, a tribunal or any other organization or individual including the president or governor of the state, a private person or even the chief justice, which they are bound to perform. If an official under the government is not fulfilling his duty, the court can order him to do that. Any individual or a private body can file a writ petition of mandamus, subject to the person/persons having legal rights to do so, in the matter concerned.


A writ of prohibition also known as a ‘stay order’ is a writ issued to forbid the proceedings of a lower court or a body if it is found to be working beyond the jurisdiction assigned to it. It can be issued against the lower courts, such as magistrates and commissions, for wrongful activity or inactivity in any matter of concern. The High Court and Supreme Court have powers to issue the Writ of Prohibition.

Writ of Certiorari

Certiorari means “to certify”. This writ is issued by a superior court to a lower body such as the Supreme Court to a High Court to transfer the record of proceedings of a particular matter to the higher court than itself. The Writ of Certiorari can also be issued by the high court to lower courts or tribunals if an error is found in the jurisdiction or law. It is a curative writ i.e. if errors are discovered, the decision made by the lower body can be reversed.

We hope the article might have given you a fair knowledge of the subject matter.

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