By Bhaskara Sharma 8 Minutes Read


A writ[1] is a legal document from the court that tells a person that they will be involved in a legal process and it explains what must be done. A writ is a formal order under the seal, issued in the name of a sovereign, government, court, or any other competent authority, enjoying the officer or any other person to whom it is issued or addressed, to do or to refrain from doing some specified act.


The word writ[2] has been in use since the early 1200 century, and it was first used to describe a written document, during the Middle ages, this document was needed for a case to be heard at the royal courts of England. Nowadays, the king is most likely no longer involved, but this word still refers to a legal document that is issued by a court of law. A writ usually contains a written order instructing someone to do something or to stop doing something. If you ever need to give out a writ, remember that the verb to serve is typically used to describe the issuing of a writ.


As per the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court and the High court are empowered to issue writs[3] under Article 32 and 226 respectivelyfor enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Indian Constitution. Thus the power to issue writs is primarily a provision made to make available the Right to Constitutional Remedies to every citizen. There are five types of writs that are defined in the Indian Constitution –

Writ of Habeas Corpus means you may have the body. This writ is issued to produce a person who has been detained illegally, before a court and to release him if such detention is found illegal.

Writ of Mandamus means We Command. This is an order by the Supreme Court/High Court to a lower court or tribunal or public authority to perform a public or statutory duty. This writ is issued by the Supreme Court/High court when any government, court, corporation, the public authority has failed to perform its duty.

Writ of Certiorari means to be certified. This writ is issued by the Supreme Court/High Court for quashing the order already passed by an inferior court, tribunal, quasi-judicial authority.

The Writ of prohibition means to forbid or to stop and it is popularly known as ‘Stay Order’. This writ is issued when a lower court or a body tries to transgress the limits or powers vested in it. This writ of prohibition is issued by the Supreme Court/High Court to any inferior court, or quasi-judicial body prohibiting the latter from continuing the proceedings in a particular case, where it has no jurisdiction to try the case. By issue of this writ, proceedings in the lower court, etc. come to a stop.

The writ of Quo-Warranto means by what warrants? or what is your authority? This is a writ issued to restrain a person from holding a public office to which he is not entitled. If a person has usurped a public office, the Court may direct him not to stop his activities in the office or may announce the office to be vacant. Hence, In a situation where a person holds an office beyond his retirement age, the court is entitled to issue a writ of Quo-Warranto.

In Jatinder Kumar vs the State of Punjab[4], the court contended that Article 320(3) of the constitution which provided that before a government servant was dismissed, the UPSC should be consulted, it did not confer any right on a public servant and hence failure to consult the public service commission did not entitle the public servant to get mandamus for compelling the government to consult the commission. However, if the authority is under law obliged to exercise a dissection, Mandamus would lie to exercise it in one way or the other.

In Syed Yakoob vs Radhakrishnan[5], the court contended that the jurisdiction of the high court to issue a writ of certiorari is a supervisory jurisdiction, and the court exercise is not entitled to act as an appellate court. An error of law which is apparent on the face of the record can be corrected by a writ[6], but not an error of fact. However, if a finding of fact is based on no evidence that would be regarded as an error of law which can be corrected by certiorari.

Some usage in a sentence

  • There have been at least seven writs issued against Bob for the late payment of bills.Jane has served a writ for libel in the newspaper.Tony stark was served with a writ on Monday.


Originated[7] in the 1121 century from Old English writ[8] means something is written or a piece of writing usually used about legal documents or instruments.

[1] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/writ

[2] “Writ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/writ. Accessed 15 Jun. 2020.

[3] “writ.”West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. 2008. The Gale Group 15 Jun. 2020 https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/writ

[4] 1984 AIR 1850, 1985 SCR (1) 899

[5] 1964 AIR 477, 1964 SCR (5) 64

[6] “writ.” Collins Dictionary of Law. 2006. W.J. Stewart 15 Jun. 2020 https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/writ

[7] https://www.etymonline.com/word/writ

[8] “writ.” A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier.. 1856. 15 Jun. 2020 https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/writ

Bhaskara Sharma

Pursuing BA-LLB from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. I find peace in wandering through the new roads and capturing those moments through my camera. To keep myself creative I do content creation in the form of pictures and videos (photography and cinematography), I find pleasure in meeting and finding the best in people. Apart from my work, I also take great pleasure in listening to music, playing Lawn Tennis and enjoying travelling to different countries.

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