Writ of Mandamus – An Overview

Writ of Mandamus – An Overview

Introduction to “Mandamus”

Article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution provide authority to the Supreme Court and High Court to issue writs in case of breach of fundamental rights of any person by the state. By such writs, the Judiciary can control the administrative actions and forestall any sort of subjective utilization of intensity and tact.

Mandamus is one such writ. According to the Black’s Law Dictionary, Writ of Mandamus is one that is issued against an inferior court, a governmental body or officer by a superior court to rectify a demonstration of the past or exclusion to act along the lines of the responsibility that they are qualified for. As it is directed to set the indolent authorities to task, it is also signified as a “wakening call”, dictating their activity and setting them in action in pursuance of discharging public duty.[1] The word “Mandamus” is derived from the Latin language, which signifies “We Command”.

Mandamus is an order from a superior court to a lower court or tribunal or public authority to play out a demonstration, which falls within its obligation. It is issued to make sure about the performance of public obligations and to uphold private rights retained by the public authorities. Just, it is a writ issued to a public official to do a thing which is a piece of his official duty, in any case, which, he has neglected to do, up until this point. This writ cannot be asserted as an issue of right. It is the optional intensity of a court to issue such writs. The main objective behind this writ is to make the Government machinery work adequately.

An order of mandamus is a command coordinated to any individual, corporation, or an inferior tribunal, expecting them to do some specific thing that relates to their/his office and which is in the nature of a public obligation. The public servants are responsible to the public for the legality of their public duties and their demonstrations under it. If a public authority neglects to do what is needed under law or does beyond what was to be done, a writ of mandamus may be issued to make him do what was needed under law. The Supreme Court in various decisions has held that the doctrine of legitimate expectation is akin to natural justice, reasonableness, and promissory estoppel.

When it will lie

The writ or order in the nature of mandamus would be issued when there is an inability to play out a mandatory duty. Mandamus is a cure in nature and cannot be expressed as a writ of right as it is issued only at the discretion of the court after the applicant of the equivalent can demonstrate to the Court that some utilitarian or simply question would be replied to by the writ.

  1. The writ of mandamus can only be permitted when there is in the applicant a right to compel the performance of some duty cast upon the authority. The obligation looked to be authorized must be a public obligation and not a private obligation.
  2. The writ of mandamus can be issued to the public authority to restrict it from acting under a law that has been declared unconstitutional.
  3. The writ of mandamus can be granted only in cases where there is a statutory duty imposed upon the officer concerned, and there is a failure on the part of that officer to discharge the statutory obligation.

Origin Writ of Mandamus in India

The Writ of Mandamus was introduced in India by the British in 1773 with the establishment of the Supreme Court of Calcutta and all the supreme courts that were situated in the Presidency Towns (Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay) were vested with the powers of issuing this writ under the Letters Patent Act. Later on, in the year 1877, the writ of mandamus from the Letters Patent Act was supplanted by an order under the newly enacted Specific Relief Act that required the completion or forbearing of a specific activity within the “local limits of its ordinary civil jurisdiction” by a competent authorized official.

Nonetheless, with the regulation of the constitutional regime in India and enactment of the new Specific Relief Act in 1963, this order consolidated within the 1877’s law was accomplished away with as the provision for writ of mandamus was already cherished in the Constitution. The last provision was unquestionably more competent and had an extensive scope of applicability while the previous was pretty prohibitive in nature as it applied distinctly to a specific nature of cases. Also, the constitutional provision also provided the High Courts with the authority of issuing writs, thus including mandamus too for the enforcement in cases of contravention of fundamental rights and legal rights also.

Types of Mandamus Writ[2]

  1. Alternative Mandamus As the first step in the writ of Mandamus process, an alternative mandamus is issued. The alternative Mandamus requires the defendant to execute the necessary demonstration or show up in court to legitimize why it was not done.
  2. Peremptory Mandamus A peremptory mandamus is granted when the defendant neglects to act on sufficient grounds for failing to carry out the act in question to comply with the alternative mandamus.
  3. Continuing Mandamus A continuing mandamus is granted to a lower public authority requesting that it perform its required tasks to prevent a miscarriage of justice.


Consequently, the writ of mandamus can be adequately portrayed as a legal instrument of guaranteeing general public interest, shielding their privileges vowed to them in the Constitution and different laws of the land. It is additionally a successful mechanism for keeping up the accountability of the state or public authorities and ordering them to agree with their constitutional and legal duties. Thus, the writ of mandamus is basically a pro-democratic mechanism that engages the common people to get their privileges enforced by the administrative bodies.

[1]. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314384185_Writ_of_Mandamus

[2]. http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/592/Analysis-Of-Writ-Of-Mandamus.html

Author: Ayush Patria,
Sangam University, Bhilwara (Rajasthan); 3rd Year; Law Student

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