What is WRIT? Types of Writs

The Supreme Court (Article 32) and the high courts (Article 226) has the authority to issue writ in India. The Parliament (under Article 32) can empower any other court to issue these writs. These are Borrowed from English law where they are known as  ‘prerogative writs. 

 Types Of Writs

  1. Habeas corpus
  2. Mandamus
  3. Prohibition
  4. Certiorari
  5. Quo-warranto

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Difference between two authorities

Supreme Court

  • Enforcement of fundamental rights
  • Coverage throughout the territory of India
  • Supreme Court can not refuse to exercise its writ jurisdiction

High Court

  • Enforcement of Fundamental Rights but also for any other purpose.
  • Coverage only territorial jurisdiction
  • High court may refuse to exercise its writ jurisdiction

Habeas Corpus – to have the body of’

Issued by the court to a person who has detained another person, to produce the body of the latter before it.

Against both public authorities as well as private individuals


  • Detention is lawful
  • The proceeding is for contempt of a legislature or a court
  • Detention is by a competent court
  • Detention is outside the jurisdiction of the court.

Mandamus – ‘we command’

Public official asking him to perform his official duties

Cannot be issued

  • Against a private individual or body
  • to enforce departmental instruction that does not possess statutory force
  • when the duty is discretionary and not mandatory
  • To enforce a contractual obligation
  • Against the president of India or the state governors
  • Against the chief justice of a high court acting in judicial capacity.

Prohibition – ‘to forbid’

Issued by a higher court to a lower court or tribunal to prevent the latter from exceeding its jurisdiction

Only against judicial and quasijudicial authorities.

Certiorari – ‘to be certified’ or ‘to be informed’

Issued by a higher court to a lower court or tribunal either to transfer a case pending with the latter to itself

1991, the Supreme Court ruled that the certiorari can be issued even against administrative authorities affecting rights of individuals

Like prohibition, certiorari is also not available against legislative bodies and private individuals or bodies.

Quo-Warranto‘by what authority or warrant’

Issued by the court to enquire into the legality of claim of a person to a public office.

This can be sought by any interested person and not necessarily by the aggrieved person.