This article is written by Suryansh Singh, a 3rd-year law student from Indore Institute of law. This article mainly discusses under what circumstances the writ of habeas corpus is issued to a person.
Constitution of India is the supreme law of the land which lays down rules and regulations for the protection of the rights of the people and imposed duties over them. This vast literature is considered as the guardian and protector of the fundamental rights guaranteed to an individual. The right of WRITS is one such right available to a person. The provisions of the Indian constitution are sanctioned by law thus the judiciary has the independent authority over the matters in which writs are to be issued. The concept of the writs is to enable the immediate determination of the rights of an individual and help the person to achieve the benefit of his right.
There are five types of writs in our constitution those are as follows:
- Writ of habeas corpus
Habeas corpus is the Latin term which means ‘you must have the body’. It is the order issued by the court to present the detenu before the court and to check whether the arrest was lawful or not.
- Writ of Mandamus
The writ of mandamus is the order or command issued by any statute or any authority sanctioned by law to any person, corporation or any other authority in order to perform any public duty.
- Writ of prohibition
The writ of prohibition means is a writ issued by the higher authority to its subordinate authority in order to stop something which the law prohibits. This writ can only be issued against a judicial and quasi-judicial body.
- Writ of certiorari
The term certiorari is a Latin word which means to be informed. This writ is issued by the higher court to review the actions of the lower court.
- Writ of quo warranto
Writ of quo warranto means by what authority. This writ is issued which requires a person to show by what authority he has exercised his powers or rights.
The supreme court under Article 32 and the high court under Article 226 have the power to issue writs of these nature. Though under Article 32 the supreme courts issue the writs if there is any violation of the fundamental rights of a person but the High Court under Article 226 has a wider jurisdiction to issue the writ for both a violation of the legal as well as the fundamental rights.
Meaning of the writ of habeas corpus
The writ of habeas corpus is the legal procedure which acts as a remedial measure for the person who is illegally detained. The term habeas corpus is the Latin word which means to bring or present the body before the court. It is the most important right available to the person detained unlawfully. The basic purpose for which this writ is used is to release a person from unlawful detention or imprisonment. This writ is of great importance as it determines a person his right to freedom and personal liberty.
A has been taken into custody by B a police officer without a warrant. All the efforts made by A’s family to know the whereabouts of A turned out to be futile. As he was detained wrongfully by B (police officer), the writ of habeas corpus can be filed in court by A’s family on his behalf.
Nature of the writ of habeas corpus
The concept of habeas corpus can be traced way back in the thirteenth century. The writ of Habeas corpus cum causa is an order calling upon the person who has detained another person, to present the person in the court and justify his actions that on what grounds and under what authority he has confined that person. If the court doesn’t find any legal justifications for the cause, then it will order for the immediate release of the person confined or imprisoned.
Who may apply for the writ of habeas corpus
To answer this question the courts have made this clear in various cases that the person who may apply for the writ of habeas corpus should be
- The person confined or detained illegally.
- The person who is aware of the benefit of the case.
- The person who is familiar with the facts and circumstances of the case and willingly files an application of the writ of habeas corpus under article 32 and 226 of the Indian constitution.
When the writ of habeas corpus is refused
The following conditions when the writ of habeas corpus is refused are as follows:
- When the court doesn’t have the territorial jurisdiction over the detainer.
- When the detention of a person is connected with the order of the court.
- When the person detained is already set free.
- When the confinement has been legitimized by the removal of the defects.
- The writ of habeas corpus will not be available during an emergency.
- When the competent court dismisses the petition on the grounds of merits.
Whether the doctrine of res judicata applies to this writ
When it comes to the illegal confinement of a person, the doctrine of res judicata is not applicable. Under article 32 successive petition for the writ of habeas corpus can be filed in the court with fresh grounds which were not covered in the earlier petition filed for the same. The petition for habeas corpus is maintainable if it is filed in the forum having its independent existence and separate jurisdiction and competency.
In Lallubhai Jogibhai Patel vs Union Of India & Ors on 15 December, 1980 it was held that no second petition for the writ of habeas corpus is maintainable in the court if filed on the same grounds as of the first one.
Preventive detention is the confinement or imprisonment of a person in order to prevent him from committing any kind of offence in the future. It does not act as a punishment or penalty imposed upon a person, it’s just a precautionary method. The concept of preventive detention and habeas corpus comes hand in hand. Article 22 of the Indian constitution states the procedure of preventive detention and requires a strict adherence of law. Parliament is authorized to make laws for preventive detention for various reasons connected with it like:
- Foreign relations or foreign affairs of the country.
- With the very purpose of providing security to India and its state.
- For the maintenance of public order.
However, such detention may be monitored through judicial review by checking its preconditions.
If the defendant gives lawful justification for the detention or confinement the writ of habeas corpus may not be issued by the court. However, in case of an alternative remedy, the applicant still has the right of issuing the writ of habeas corpus. It is not refused on the grounds of availability of the alternative remedy to the applicant.
Burden of proof
The burden of proof lies over the person or the authority to satisfy the court that the detention or confinement of the person was made on legal grounds. And if the detenu alleges that the confinement was malicious and outside the jurisdiction of the authority detaining the person than the burden of proof lies over the detenu.
Under Article 32 of the Indian constitution, the supreme court has jurisdiction over all the authorities within and outside the territorial jurisdiction of India. Under Article 226 the high court is empowered to deal with the matter when the high court is having control over that authority and the probable cause of action arises.
Writ of habeas corpus during an emergency proclamation
The writ of habeas corpus is maintainable during an emergency proclamation, as after the 44th amendment in 1978 it was stated that fundamental rights enshrined under article 20 and 21 cannot be suspended. And for the enforcement of these rights, the writ petition can be filed in court.
This case is also known as the habeas corpus case and it was based upon the grounds of issuance and the viability aspect of this writ. This whole case spins around the situation when the emergency was proclaimed and the question was raised whether the writ of habeas corpus is maintainable in this situation or not. It was held that as in the case of Liversidge v. Anderson during emergency all the rights were held suspended, the same was held in the instant case where a state has the power to restrain the rights especially right to life enshrined under article 21 of the Indian constitution in an emergency situation. This decision was considered to be the darkest day of Indian history.
In the instant case, a letter was written to the supreme court regarding the condition of the women prisoners who were assaulted in the lockup and the writ petition was filed regarding this situation by the plaintiff who was a human rights activists. An investigative authority was sent by the court for crosschecking the situation and the allegations made by the plaintiff. It was found that the allegations were correct. It was held that if a person detained or confined can’t file an application for the writ than some other person can file it on his behalf which quashed the locus standi approach.
In the instant case, it was held by the court that the writ petition of habeas corpus can be filed in the court that not only for the wrongful or illegal confinement of the prisoner but also for his protection from any kind of ill-treatment and discrimination by the authority responsible for his detention. Thus the petition can be filed for the unlawful detention and checks the manner in which the detention was caused.
In the instant case, the son of the petitioner was taken away by the Orissa police for the purpose of interrogation. All the efforts made in order to trace him turned out to be futile. So the writ petition of habeas corpus was filed in the court. During the pendency of the petition, the dead body of the petitioner’s son was found on the railway track. The petitioner was awarded compensation for Rs. 1,50,000.
In the instant case, it was held that instead of following the traditional method of producing the body before the court there must be complete focus on the legality of the detention by looking into the facts and circumstances of the case. This case majorly focused on the nature and scope of the case and stated that this writ is a procedural writ and not a substantive writ.
In the instant case, the preventive detention act was examined based on its constitutional validity. If a legislature restraints a person from his personal liberty should be competent enough to make such law in the first place. Detention is turned out to be unlawful if the law backing it up is unlawful. A person has the right to approach the court. A person can file an appeal in the supreme court against the order of high court in case of accepting or refusing the application for the writ of habeas corpus.
It can be concluded that the right of WRITS is one such right available to a person. The provisions of the Indian constitution are sanctioned by law thus the judiciary has the independent authority over the matters in which writs are to be issued. The concept of the writs is to enable the immediate determination of the rights of an individual and help the person to achieve the benefit of his right.
The writ of habeas corpus is the most important writ available to a person as it enables him to determine the right to his liberty. It acts as a remedial measure which ensures to set free the detained person from the illegal imprisonment. However, it doesn’t absolve any person from his liability. It demands lawful justification for the detention and protects the person from any kind of ill-treatment and discrimination from the authority which detained the person. In this manner, the judiciary is using this writ in such an effective manner in order to ensure security to a person from unlawful confinement.