In our country, India Article 32 and 226 of the constitution gives power to the Supreme Court and the High Court to issue writs in case of breach of fundamental rights of any citizen by the state with such writs the judiciary can control the administrative actions and prevent any kind of arbitrary use of power and discretion.
Mandamus in Indian Law prior to the Constitution.
Mandamus was introduced in India by the Letters Patent creating the Supreme Court in Calcutta in 1773, where the Supreme Courts in the Presidency towns were empowered to issue the writ. In the year 1877, the Specific Relief Act substituted an order in the nature of mandamus in the place of the writ of mandamus for the purpose of requiring any specific action to be done or forborne within the local limits of its ordinary civil jurisdiction by any citizen holding a public office.
Under the Specific Relief Act of 1963, which replaced the earlier Act the provision has been omitted it was done so because such a provision under the Specific Relief Act became redundant since the Constitution of India contains a similar and more efficacious provision for the enforcement of public duties. Our Indian Constitution empowers all High Courts to issue directions, orders including writs in the nature of mandamus for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose. The Supreme Court also has the power to issue mandamus for the enforcement of fundamental rights under Article 329.
Naib Tehsildar of Fatehabad had issued a certificate to the Petitioner Ravi Kumar atheist to certify him so, and also that he does not belong to any caste, any religion and doesn’t believe in God. Subsequently, the cancellation of the said certificate was communicated to the Petitioner, who initiated the present proceedings. Then Advocate Ashok Goel on behalf of the Petitioner, submitted that the Petitioner was vested with the right to be issued a certificate in the nature of no caste, no religion, and no God.
He also submitted that as per Article 25 of the Constitution each Indian citizen has a right to practice and propagate a religion of his own choice. A person cannot be forced to follow any particular religion. The Petitioner spoke that a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste category did not wish to derive any benefit of reservation under the Constitution and he also wished to promote a society with no caste. He submitted that caste and religion created a disparity in society and were thus opposed to the directive principles of the Constitution and a welfare state.
Accepting aforesaid arguments the Petitioner’s request for the issue of a certificate was denied but the court agreed that the freedom conferred by Article 25 of the Constitution included a right of an individual to claim that he is an Atheist. The Petitioner failed to demonstrate the prejudice that he would suffer on account of the non-issuance of the certificate.
The court said that no authority has the power to impose upon the Petitioner to profess any particular religion for him to believe in God and in such circumstances, the issuing of a certificate was unnecessary. Further, the Petitioner had also failed to cite any provision in law whereby the Respondent authorities were obligated to issue such a certificate.
Disposing of the petition filed in this behalf Justice Tejinder Singh Dhindsa stated that
if the petitioner has chosen a path of an Atheist decided not to believe in any caste, class, there would be no requirement in law for him to be issued a certificate to such an effect. Even if any such certificate has been issued by the Naib Tehsildar concerned and the same having subsequently been canceled it would be of no consequence.
The writ of mandamus is to protect the interest of the public from the powers given to them to affect the rights and liabilities of the people it makes sure that the power or the duties are not misused by the executive or administration and are duly fulfilled. It safeguards the public from the misuse of authority by the administrative bodies.
There are certain conditions also where alternative remedies should be exhausted and it should be a statutory duty and not discretionary in nature. Hence, it forms one of the basic tools in the hands of the common people against the administrative bodies if they do not fulfill the duties which by statutes they are bound to perform it.