Writ and Writ Petition

A writ is a formal written order issued by a Court. Any warrant, orders, directions, and so on, issued by the Supreme Court or the High court are called writs.

A writ petition can be filed in the High Court (Article 226) or the Supreme Court (Article 32) of India when any of your fundamental rights are violated. The jurisdiction with the High Courts (Article 226) with regards to a writ petition is wider and extends to constitutional rights too.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of writs and a sample format for submitting a writ petition.

There are five types of writs: namely, quo warranto, habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition and certiorari.

Types of Writs

Habeas Corpus

A writ of Habeas Corpus is used by the courts to find out if a person has been illegally detained. If the answer is yes, the court can order for his release. If a person has been illegally detained, he himself, a friend or even a relative can file a writ of Habeas Corpus. Habeas Corpus is Latin for ‘Let us have the body’ (or, let us see the person who has been illegally detained). Through Habeas Corpus, the court can thus also summon the person detained or imprisoned to the court.

To file a Habeas Corpus petition
Although generally a petition is to be filed by the person being detained or arrested, as per Habeas Corpus, any other person can do it on behalf of the detained individual. This writ (written petition) can be issued against a public authority or any particular individual.


A writ of Mandamus is issued by a higher court to a lower court, tribunal or a public authority to perform an act which such a lower court is bound to perform. If a public official is not performing his duty, the court can order it or him/her to do that. Mandamus means we command.

To file a Mandamus petition

Mandamus or the ‘we command’ writ can be issued against anyone, including the president or governor of the state, a private person or chief justice. 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 issued to a lower court or a body to stop acting beyond its powers.

While a writ of mandamus is issued for any activity that is not legal, the writ of petition is issued against the lower courts, such as magistrates and commissions, for inactivity in the matter of concern. The High Court and Supreme Court can issue the Writ of Prohibition.

Writ of Certiorari:

The writ of Certiorari is issued by the Supreme Court to a Lower Court or any other body to transfer a particular matter to the higher courts than itself. The Writ of Certiorari is issued by the high court to the lower courts or tribunal, when an error of jurisdiction or law is believed to be committed.
Writ of Certiorari is a curative writ.

Quo Warranto

The writ of Quo Warranto (by what warrant) is issued to inquire about the legality of a claim by a person or authority to act in a public office, which he or she is not entitled to. The writ is only for the public offices and does not include private institutions/offices.

Click here for a format of writ petition in Supreme Court.

A writ can be filed only if your fundamental rights are being violated. Generally, you can file a writ petition against state and government agencies. However, a writ Petition can also be issued against private authorities when they are discharging public functions.

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