SC: High Courts Are Duty Bound To Issue Writ Of Mandamus For Enforcement Of A Public Duty

    The Supreme Court observed that the High Courts are duty bound to issue a Writ of Mandamus for enforcement of a public duty. (Hari Krishna Mandir Trust v. the State of Maharashtra.)

    The Bench comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Indu Malhotra pronounced the judgment on the appeal against the judgment passed by Bombay High court. The bench said:

    In appropriate cases, in order to prevent injustice to the parties, the Court may itself pass an order or give directions which the government or the public authorities should have passed, had it properly and lawfully exercised its discretion.

    The dispute in this case pertains to a private road.The trust through filing an application requested the State Government to correct the wrong entry in the name Pune Municipal Corporation. The Urban Development Department, Government of Maharashtra rejected the Proposal and also held that the owner of Land is Municipal Corporation. 

    The appellant contended that the Pune Municipal Corporation by its letters admitted that the internal road had never been acquired by the Pune Municipal Corporation. The Town and Planning Department also admitted that Pune Municipal Corporation had wrongly been shown to be the owner of said road.

    The High Court dismissed the writ petition challenging the said order passed by the Government and held that the land in question had vested under Section 88 of the Regional Town and Planning Act.

    An Appeal was filed by Hari Krishna Mandir Trust against a judgment passed by the Division Bench of Bombay High Court.

    The Supreme Court set aside the Judgment of High Court which dismissed the Writ Petition filed by Hare Krishna Mandir Trust and observed that:

    “The High Courts exercising their jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, not only have the power to issue a Writ of Mandamus or in the nature of Mandamus, but are duty-bound to exercise such power, where the Government or public authority has failed to exercise or has wrongly exercised discretion conferred upon it by a Statute, or a rule, or a policy decision of the Government or has exercised such discretion malafide, or on irrelevant consideration In all such cases, the High Court must issue a Writ of Mandamus and give directions to compel performance in an appropriate and lawful manner of the discretion conferred upon the Government or a public authority.”

    Further, the Court stated that the High Courts do not only have the power to issue a writ of Mandamus or in the Nature of Mandamus, but are duty-bound to exercise such powers for the enforcement of public duty.

    “The Court is duty-bound to issue a writ of Mandamus for enforcement of public duty. There can be no doubt that an important requisite for the issue of Mandamus is that Mandamus lies to enforce a legal duty. This duty must be shown to exist towards the applicant. A statutory duty must exist before it can be enforced through Mandamus. Unless a statutory duty or right can be read in the provision, Mandamus cannot be issued to enforce the same.”