The Indian Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to issue writs for enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of Indian Constitution under Article 32. Thus the power to issue writs is primarily a provision made to make available the Right to Constitutional Remedies to every citizen. The Right to Constitutional Remedies, as we know, is a guarantor of all other fundamental rights available to the people of India.

In addition to the above, the Constitution also provides for the Parliament to confer on the Supreme Court power to issue writs, for purposes other than those mentioned above.

Similarly High Courts in India are also empowered to issue writs for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.

Supreme Court issues 5 types of writs:

  1. Habeas Corpus (meaning - you may have the body) : To release a person who has been detained unlawfully, whether in prison or in private custody.

  2. Mandamus (meaning - we command) : To secure the performance of public duties by a lower court, tribunal or public authority, which they fail to do on their own. Due to this, Mandamus is called a “wakening call” and it awakes the sleeping authorities to perform their duty.

  3. Certiorari (meaning - to be certified) : To quash an order already passed by a lower court, tribunal or quasi-judicial authority. It is issued by a higher court to a lower court or tribunal either to transfer a case pending with that to itself or squash its order.

  4. Prohibition: To prohibit an inferior court from continuing the proceedings in a case when it is outside their jurisdiction. For example if a judicial officer has personal interest in a case, it may hamper the decision and the course of natural justice.

  5. Quo warranto (meaning - what is your authority) : To restrain a person from holding a public office to which he is not entitled. This writ is applicable to the public offices only and not to private offices.