Writs of certiorari

It is well-settled that the powers of this Court to issue writs of certiorari under Art. 32(2) as well as the powers of the High Courts to issue similar writs under Art. 226 are very wide. In fact, the powers of the High Courts under Art. 226 are, in a sense, wider than those of this Court, because the exercise of the powers of this Court to issue writs of certiorari are limited to the purposes set out in Art. 32(1).

The nature and the extent of the writ jurisdiction conferred on the High Courts by Art. 226 was considered by this Court as early as 1955 in T.C. Basappa Vs. T. Nagappa and Another, . It would be useful to refer to some of the points elucidated in this judgment. The first point which was made clear by Mukherjea, J., who spoke for the Court, was that “in view of the express provisions in our Constitution, we need not now look back to the early history or the procedural technicalities of these writs in English law, nor feel oppressed by any difference or change of opinion expressed in particular cases by English Judges. We can make an order or issue a writ in the nature of certiorari in all appropriate cases and in appropriate manner, so long as we keep to the broad and fundamental principles that regulate the exercise of jurisdiction in the matter of granting such writs in English law.”

One of the essential features of the writ, according to Mukherjea, J., is “that the control which is exercised through it over judicial or quasi-judicial tribunals or bodies is not in an appellate but supervisory capacity. In granting a writ of certiorari, the superior Court does not exercise the powers of an appellate tribunal. It does not review or reweigh the evidence upon which the determination of the inferior tribunal purports to be based. It demolishes the order which it considers to be without jurisdiction or palpably erroneous but does not substitute its own views for those of the inferior tribunal. The supervision of the superior Court exercised through writs of certiorari goes to two points, one is the area of inferior jurisdiction and the qualifications and conditions of its exercise; the other is the observance of law in the course of its exercise. Certiorari may lie and is generally granted when a Court has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction. The want of jurisdiction may arise from the nature of the subject-matter of the proceeding or from the absence of some preliminary proceeding or the Court itself may not be legally constituted or suffer from certain disability by reason of extraneous circumstances. When the jurisdiction of the Court depends upon the existence of some collateral fact, it is well-settled that the Court cannot by a wrong decision of the fact give it jurisdiction which it would not otherwise possess.”