Writ Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Court – Comparison



Writs are the important powers granted to the courts under the Indian Constitution. The concept of writ is being originated and borrowed from the England. It gives the power to courts under Article 32 and 226 for Supreme Court and High Court respectively. It protects the fundamental rights of the Individual under Part-III of the Constitution. The provision of writ makes the individual prerogative of their Right of Constitutional Remedies available under Article 32, which is a guarantor of fundamental rights of the citizen of India.


A writ is a written directive issued by a court instructing a public authority to act or refrain from acting in a specific manner. It is directed towards a specific person, group, or organization. Protecting and upholding citizens’ fundamental rights is the primary goal of issuing writs. In order to deliver justice to the people, the courts issue orders, warrants, directions, and other types of writs to the relevant authority.

It issues five different types of writs to enforce citizens’ fundamental rights. The five categories of writs are:

  • Habeas Corpus
  • Mandamus
  • Prohibition
  • Certiorari
  • Quo-Warranto


“Have the body” is the meaning of the Latin phrase Habeas corpus. The door to freedom can be opened using this key. This writ offers a speedy and efficient remedy for impermissible constraints. The purpose of it is to enable a prompt judicial review of any wrongful detention.

The individual who is being held unlawfully, the detainee’s heirs, even a friend, but not a complete stranger, may file a writ of habeas corpus application.

It can be brought against any person or organisation that unlawfully detained or imprisoned the prisoner.


ADM Jabalpur v. Shivakant Shukla, a landmark case, was decided according to this standard: “The writ of habeas corpus is a process for securing the liberty of the subject by affording an effective means of immediate relief from unlawful or unjustifiable detention, whether in prison or private custody.” The parties must be released if there is no legitimate reason for their imprisonment. This case is called the Habeas Corpus Case.

The Supreme Court by a majority of 4:1 held that during the emergency and suspension of fundamental rights, no person has locus standi to move any court for a writ of Habeas Corpus.


Mandamus means a command. It is a directive given by a court to a public authority instructing it to carry out a public responsibility placed on it by the constitution or by any other law. It is a judicial remedy that takes the form of a directive from a superior court or a high court to any government, court, corporation, or public authority to perform or refrain from performing a particular act that that body is required by law to do or refrain from performing as the case may be and which is in the nature of a public duty and in some cases, a statutory duty.

The primary object of mandamus is to supply defect of justice. It seeks to protect rights of a citizen by requiring enforcement and fulfilment of imperative duty created by law.

The court issued a Writ of Mandamus in the matter of Ratlam Municipality v. Vardhi Chand because it was determined that the Municipality was a statutory entity that has obligations to the general public, including the removal of night soil and trash and any other public nuisances.

Thus, persons who desire to enforce these Writs on behalf of others in the public interest may apply for a mandamus in addition to those who are directly harmed.


“Prevention is better than cure” is the guiding premise behind the writ of prohibition. It is an uncommon preventive prerogative writ. It aims to stop courts, tribunals, quasi-judicial bodies, officers, and individuals exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions from assuming or using jurisdiction that does not belong to them.

Preventing jurisdictional encroachment is the key goal. By ensuring that an inferior court stays within the parameters of the legal authority granted to it, it is a way for a superior court to exert its supervisory authority over that court.

For instance, since the District Court lacks the authority to hear an appeal against a High Court decision, it is unavoidable that such an act be forbidden. To prevent such a District Court action, a Writ of Prohibition will be issued.


When a private person accepts an office on which he has no right, the courts will issue him with a Writ of Quo Warranto. Quo Warranto, which means “by what authority” in Latin, is an effective deterrent against people assuming control of public posts.

Illustration: A assumes the position of sub-inspector despite being a private citizen and lacking the necessary qualifications. Here, a Writ of Quo Warranto may be issued against A to contest the legitimacy of the authority he has used to seize control of the sub-inspector position.

Nobody may demand that the court issue this writ on their behalf because the court has the discretion to do so.

In Jamalpur Arya Samaj Sabha v. Dr. D. Rama, the petitioner filed a Writ of Quo Warranto application in the Patna High Court against the Working Committee of the private Bihar Raj Arya Samaj Pratinidhi Sabha. Due to the fact that it was not a public position, the court declined to issue the Writ.


When compared to other Writs, certiorari is a unique kind of Writ. Since this Writ is remedial in nature, it is intended to fix an error that is plainly visible in the records.

A superior court may grant an inferior court a Writ of Certiorari. When there is an excess of jurisdiction by the inferior court or when the superior court wants to consider a matter in the case itself, this may be issued. A fundamental flaw in the subordinate court’s procedure or a breach of the natural justice principles may also warrant the issuance of this Writ.

A matter is pending in the District Court, but the court lacks the authority to decide it. Nevertheless, the District Court Judge hears the matter, renders a judgement, and A (the party who was wronged by the decision) files a petition with the High Court. The District Court’s order will be quashed as a result of the High Court using its authority to issue Writs to issue a Writ of Certiorari on it.


Although the Writs of Certiorari and Prohibition appear to be identical, they differ significantly in one important way. In contrast to the Writ of Certiorari, which the superior court issues after the inferior court has made the final ruling, the Writ of Prohibition is issued by the inferior court prior to the passing of the final order, making it a preventive remedy. Therefore, the Writ of Certiorari is a corrective remedy that invalidates an inferior court’s decision.


A high court may issue writs under Article 226 of the Constitution for any reason, including the enforcement of basic rights.

The enforcement of a common legal right is meant by the phrase “for any other reason.”

The high court has the power to issue writs to any person, organisation, or government, both inside and outside of its territorial jurisdiction, provided that the cause of action originates there.

The Supreme Court’s writ jurisdiction is concurrent with that of the high court rather than exclusive (under Article 32).

In other words, when a citizen’s fundamental rights are violated, the victim has the choice of bringing a direct case before the high court or the Supreme Court.

The high court’s writ jurisdiction is, nevertheless, more expansive than the Supreme Court’s.

This is such that it does not apply in situations when an ordinary legal right is purportedly violated because the Supreme Court can only issue writs for the enforcement of basic rights and for no other purpose.

Ordinarily, the Court will not issue a writ if the assailed ruling was made by a body under his jurisdiction and is not obviously incorrect.

A writ of prohibition or other suitable writ or order will be issued, regardless of the delay in filing the petition or the existence of an abuse of authority, if the defect of jurisdiction is clear on the face of the proceedings or if there is alternative remedy available.


The Supreme Court shall have the authority to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari, as may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part, according to Article 32(2) of the Indian Constitution.

A fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution is Article 32. This Article gives the Supreme Court the authority to dispense with the long-standing Locus Standi principle and permit public interest litigation (PIL) at the request of civic-minded individuals. The Supreme Court can grant relief to a variety of plaintiffs, including victims of police torture, convicts who are awaiting trial, and those who were forced into bonded labour.


Since the Supreme Court only has a little amount of power to issue writs, this authority is wider in the case of High Courts.


 SUPREME COURT                     HIGH COURT
The Supreme Court of India has the power to issue writs under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. The High Courts in India are empowered to issue writs under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.
The Supreme Court can only issue writs when Fundamental Rights are violated. In addition to where there is a breach of fundamental rights, High Courts may also issue writs in other circumstances.


The Supreme Court has the authority to grant Writs under Article 32, and High Courts have that authority under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. These Writs are orders issued by the Courts to the public authority that is responsible for carrying out the act.

There are five different sorts of Writs: Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Certiorari, Quo Warranto, and Prohibition. All of these Writs are efficient ways to uphold citizens’ rights and force the government to carry out its legal obligations.

The Mandamus has the broadest reach of these Writs. While other Writs are only granted under specific conditions, such as when someone is wrongfully held (Habeas Corpus) or when a court exceeds its power (Certiorari), Mandamus can be issued in situations where there is an authority in the course of duty.

As a result, all of these Writs have been crucial in protecting citizens’ rights and expanding the reach of courts’ judicial review authority.

Author: Anshika Jain,
Amity University, Madhya Pradesh, B.A. LL.B (Hons.), 3rd year

1 thought on “Writ Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Court – Comparison”

  1. So do you mean that an individual can either invoke the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme court or that of the high court according to his choice when his fundemental rights are violated? Kindly answer. If the writ jurisdictiion of the supreme court is invoked by the aggrieved person when his fundemental rights are violated can the supreme court ask him to go to the high court first for exhausting his alternate remedy?


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