What is a Writ and What is a Writ Petition?

Last Updated at: December 16, 2019

A court publishes a writ which is a formal written order. The Supreme Court or the High court issues any warrant, orders, directions, and so on. These are writs. One can file a writ petition 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.

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

Types of Writs

Habeas Corpus

The courts use the writ of Habeas Corpus to find out if a person has been illegally detained. If the answer is yes, the court can order for his release. If you detain or restrain someone, then they or their surrounding members can file a writ of Habeas Corpus. Habeas Corpus is Latin for ‘Let us have the body’. Through Habeas Corpus, the court can thus also summon the person detained or imprisoned to the court.

To file a Habeas Corpus petition

If you detain or arrest anyone, they can file a petition, as per the Habeas Corpus. Also, on behalf of the person, anyone can file the petition. This writ (written petition) can be issued against a public authority or any particular individual.


A higher court issues a writ of Mandamus to a lower court, tribunal or a public authority to perform an act which such a lower court performs. If a public official is not performing their duty, the court can order it them 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.

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A lower court or a body receives a writ of prohibition, also known as a ‘stay order’, 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 the Supreme Court can issue the Writ of Prohibition.

Writ of Certiorari:

The Supreme Court issues the Writ of Certiorari to a Lower Court or any other body. It is to transfer a particular matter to the higher courts than itself. The high court issues the Writ of Certiorari to the lower courts or tribunal. The high court issues when an error of jurisdiction or law takes place.
Writ of Certiorari is a curative writ.

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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.

NOTE: Quo warranto meaning – a writ or legal action which shows on what warrant the particular person is held. 

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

If your fundamental rights are violated, then you can file a writ. 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.

    A lawyer with 14 years' experience, Vikram has worked with several well-known corporate law firms before joining Vakilsearch.