One of the most critical legal term in an Administrative Law is Writ of Quo Warranto. Unfortunately, hardly there is proper elaboration of this legal term in whole internet. Today, you will get the full explanation on Writ of Quo Warranto with examples and case laws. Quo Warranto literally means ‘what is your authority’. It is a judicial remedy against an occupier or usurper of an independent substantive public office, franchise or liberty. By issuing this Writ the person concerned is called upon to show to the Court by what authority he holds the office, franchise or liberty. If the holder has no authority to hold the office he can be ousted from its enjoyment. On the other hand, this Writ also protects the holder of a public office from being deprived of that to which he may have a right. For readers who are still searching for an elaborate definition of Writ can go through with this link – https://grababyte.in/writ-definition-elaborated-with-examples-case-laws/.
OBJECT – In University of Mysore vs. Govinda Rao, the Supreme Court observed : “the procedure of Quo Warranto confers jurisdiction and authority on the judiciary to control executive action in the matter of making appointments to public offices against the relevant statutory provisions; it also protects a citizen being deprived of public office to which he may have a right.”
CONDITIONS – Before the Writ of Quo Warranto can be issued the following conditions must be satisfied :-
1) The office must be of a public nature. By public office is meant an office in which the public has an interest. Before the Writ can be issued the court must be satisfied that the office in question is a public office and the holder thereof has no legal authority to hold the said office. This Writ will not lie in respect of office of a private nature, Example, a managing committee of a private school.
2) The office must be of a substantive character. The word substantive character means the office in question must be an independent office. the holder of such office must be an independent official and not merely a deputy or servant of others. But the mere fact that the office is held at pleasure will not make the office one which is not substantive. Thus, the membership of the Privy Council, or the office of an Advocate General of a State, or the Governor, though held during the pleasure of the Crown can be said to be of a substantive character.
3) The office must be statutory or constitutional. Thus, a Writ of Quo Warranto may be issued in respect of offices of the Prime Minister, Advocate General, Judge of a High Court, Public Prosecutor, Speaker of a House of the State Legislature, members of a Municipal Body, University officials, etc.
4) The holder must have asserted his claim to the office. Mere making of a claim is not enough. But defective swearing can warrant Quo Warranto.
Who May Apply – The object of the Writ Of Quo Warranto is to prevent a person who has wrongfully usurped a public office from continuing in that office. Therefore, an application for a Writ of Quo Warranto challenging the legality and validity of an appointment to a public office is maintainable at the instance of any private person even though he is not personally aggrieved or interested in the matter. In G.D.Karkare vs. T.L.Shevde, AIR 1952 Nag 330 (334), the High Court of Nagpur observed : “In proceedings for a Writ of Quo Warranto the applicant does not seek to enforce any right of his as such, nor does he complain of any non-performance of duty towards him. What is in question is the right of the non-applicant to hold the office and an order that is passed is an order ousting him from that office.”
When May Be Refused – Quo Warranto is a discretionary remedy and the petitioner cannot claim this Writ as of right.
1) The court may refuse to grant this Writ taking into account the facts and circumstances of the case. This may include instances where the issue of a Writ would be vexacious, or where there was acquiescence on the part of the petitioner, or where it would be futile as the holder of an office has ceased to hold the office in question. It may also refused if there is mere irregularity in election.
2) A Writ of Quo Warranto may also be refused on the ground that alternative statutory remedy is available to the petitioner. Thus, when a Writ of Quo Warranto was sought to be enforced against a member of the State legislature, it was refused on the ground that there was an alternative remedy by way of making an election petition. But if the objection taken by the petitioner falls outside the statutory remedy, the existence of an alternative will be no bar to the Writ of Quo Warranto.
Exception – Writ of Quo Warranto can not be refused only on the ground of delay. There is an obvious reason behind it. In Sonu Sampat vs. Jalgaon Municipality, ILR 1958 Bom 113 (126) : (1957) 59 Bom LR 1088 (1096), the High Court of Bombay observed : “If the appointment of an officer is illegal, every day that he acts in that office, a fresh cause of action arises; there can, therefore, be no question of delay in presenting a petition for Quo Warranto in which his very right to act in such a responsible post has been questioned.”
Alternative Remedy – If an alternative remedy and equally effective remedy is available to the applicant, court may not issue a Writ of Quo Warranto and relegate him to avail of that remedy. Existence of alternative remedy, however, is not an absolute bar and a court has discretion to issue Writ of Quo Warranto notwithstanding availability of alternative remedy.
Delay – Cause of action for a Writ of Quo Warranto is a continuous one. If the appointment of an officer is illegal, every day that he acts in that office, a fresh cause of action arises and a petition cannot be dismissed on the ground of delay.