What Is Extra Ordinary Writ Jurisdiction For PIL In India

By Team Legal Helpline India, December 10, 2020

Extra ordinary writ jurisdiction is above the ordinary powers of the Supreme Court and High Court hence named as extra ordinary powers. All other legal provisions to approach the Supreme Court under law such as appeal, revision, reference etc. are called the ordinary powers of the court but the writ powers are named as extra ordinary powers of the court.

Writ is a highly prerogative and effective powers of the courts to issue directions to the Government on any irregularity, inactivity, unconstitutionality, arbitrariness. The extra ordinary writ jurisdiction is however not available against a private person or a body except in the case of writ of Habeas Corpus only. The extra ordinary writ jurisdiction is available only against any action of the government.

Under the exercise of the extra ordinary writ jurisdiction, the Supreme Court and High Court can issue writs against inactivity by the Government or misuse of the powers by any authority. The extra ordinary writ jurisdiction is also exercised for the judicial review of the orders of the public authorities. The grounds on which the extra ordinary writ jurisdiction can be exercised are well defined and can only be used for the scrutiny of any order  on the grounds of perversity, patent illegality, irrationality, want of power to take the decision and procedural irregularity. Besides these parameters, the administrative decisions are not interfered with, in exercise of the extra ordinary writ jurisdiction.

EXTRA ORDINARY POWERS OF WRIT:

Writ petition before Supreme Court of India is filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India which reads as under:

“32. Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part

(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed

(2) The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part

(3) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clause ( 1 ) and ( 2 ), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause ( 2 )

(4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.”

Writ before High Court is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India which reads as under:

“Power of High Courts to issue certain writs

(1) Notwithstanding anything in Article 32 every High Court shall have powers, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercise jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibitions, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose

(2) The power conferred by clause ( 1 ) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories

(3) Where any party against whom an interim order, whether by way of injunction or stay or in any other manner, is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition under clause ( 1 ), without

(a) furnishing to such party copies of such petition and all documents in support of the plea for such interim order; and

(b) giving such party an opportunity of being heard, makes an application to the High Court for the vacation of such order and furnishes a copy of such application to the party in whose favour such order has been made or the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of the application within a period of two weeks from the date on which it is received or from the date on which the copy of such application is so furnished, whichever is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that period, before the expiry of the next day afterwards on which the High Court is open; and if the application is not so disposed of, the interim order shall, on the expiry of that period, or, as the case may be, the expiry of the aid next day, stand vacated

(4) The power conferred on a High Court by this article shall not be in derogation of the power conferred on the Supreme court by clause ( 2 ) of Article 32.”

DIFFERENCE OF POWERS UNDER 32 AND 226

The provisions of Article 32 and Article 226 are parallel and have equal importance but in practice they differ. Writ before Supreme Court of India can be filed only in case when the petitioner cannot approach the High Court or the effect of the prayer if granted shall be on the entire country whereas the writ before High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India can be filed when the relief is mainly centered to the particular state. This rule does not apply strictly as several factors such as the location of the parties, the origin of the cause of action are also very important determinants.

In practice it has been noticed that Supreme Court asks the petitioner to approach the High Court first unless if it finds that the relief has a wider territorial ramifications, it entertains the same. The outcome of the writ or the grant of the prayer are practically the same hence one has to keep in mind the abovesaid facts while invoking the extra ordinary powers of the court.

The powers of High Court under Article 226 are wider as compared to the powers of the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. High Court has jurisdiction not only to grant relief for the enforcement of fundamental rights but also for “any other purpose” which would include the enforcement of public duties by public bodies. The words any other purpose thus widens the jurisdiction of the High Court wider than Supreme Court which is circumscribed by the wordings of Article 32 given above.

WHAT ARE WRITS:

We all know about the extra ordinary writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Court are by way of five types of writs as described under the Constitution of India. The said writs as described are as under:

  • Mandamus
  • Certiorari
  • Prohibition
  • Quo Waranto
  • Habeas Corpus

WHAT IS EXTRA ORDINARY WRIT JURISDICTION FOR PIL IN INDIA

If we examine that what is extra ordinary writ jurisdiction for PIL in India, we find that the Supreme Court and High Court have widened the scope of the extra ordinary writ jurisdiction vide its various orders from time to time. For upholding the rule of law and for ensuring equitable justice to all, the courts have come to the rescue of the common man or public at large at times. While examining what is extra ordinary writ jurisdiction for PIL in India, we also find that wide interpretation of the definition of Article 32 and Article 226 of the Constitution of India has already been given by the courts.

Under the exercise of its extra ordinary writ jurisdiction for PIL in India, the courts have gone to the extent of allowing the locus standi of any socially conscious person to file petition on behalf of others or to raise issues of public interest by way of a PIL. The court has taken the class view of the matters and has issued directions at times to the government on such issues. The courts have gone further in the exercise of their extra ordinary powers to take suo motto cognizance of the various irregularities and issuing directions. In exercise of the extra ordinary jurisdiction the courts have also treated letter petitions and issued directions on the same at time.

It is thus clear that the courts are very clear on what is extra ordinary writ jurisdiction for PIL in India.

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