Jan 9, 2018
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What is Writ of Mandamus?

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What is Writ of Mandamus?

A writ of mandamus is in the form of command. The term mandamus means “We Command”. This writ issued by the court to the inferior court, public official, public body, corporation, tribunal and also government. The writ directs them to perform their duties which they have refused to perform. Therefore, Writ of Mandamus is a wakening call for the authority. It wakes up the sleeping authorities to perform the entrusted duties. Mandamus thus demands an activity and sets the authority in action. This writ governed by Constitution of India.

Mandamus cannot issued against the following:

  • a private individual or private body.
  • if the duty in question is discretionary and not mandatory.
  • against president or governors of state
  • against a working chief justice
  • to enforce some kind of private contract.

The writ petition of mandamus can filled by any person, who wants the concerned authority to perform their duties.  Such a filing person must have real or special interest in the subject matter and must have legal right to do so.

Mandamus in Indian Law prior to the constitution

Mandamus came in India by the Letters Patent creating the Supreme Court in Calcutta in 1773. The Supreme Courts  were empowered to issue the writ. In 1877, the Specific Relief Act added an order in the nature of mandamus in the place of the writ of mandamus. It was done for the purpose of “requiring any specific act done or forborne within the local limits of its ordinary civil jurisdiction by any person holding a public office.

Under the Specific Relief Act, 1963,this provision has omitted. This omission done because such a provision under the Specific Relief Act became redundant. As constitution of India also had similar and effective effective provision for enforcement of public duties. Later constitution gave the powers to all high courts to issue writs. The Supreme Court can also issue mandamus for the enforcement of fundamental rights

Grounds of The Writ of Mandamus

The writ of mandamus issued o the following grounds:

  1. That the petitioner has a legal right.
  2. there’s infringement of the legal right of the petitioner;
  3. the infringement is due to non-performance of the duty by the public authority
  4. That the petitioner has demanded the performance of the legal duty by the public authority and the authority has refused to act;
  5. there has been no effective alternative legal remedy.

Interpretation of Public right and mandamus

Mandamus issued against authorities who does not perform their duty. Under following circumstances mandamus issued :

1. The petitioner must have a legal right to claim the performance of a legal duty. It will only command the authority to perform its duty. The authority refused to perform the duty entrusted upon him. The writ of mandamus ask the authority to perform its duties.

2. The duty so specified in the petition must represent public duty in nature.

3. The right enforceable must subsist on the date of the petition. If the interest of the petitioner has lawfully terminated before that date, he is not entitled to the writ.

4. As a general rule, writ of mandamus not issued in anticipation of injury. There are exceptions to this rule. Anybody who is likely to be affected by the order of a public officer is entitled to bring an application for mandamus if the officer acts in contravention of his statutory duty.


Hence the writ of mandamus protects the interest of public. It makes sure that the powers or the duties are not misused by the authorities.  It also safeguards the public from the misuse of authority by the administrative bodies.

Article Categories:
Constitutional Law

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