Legal Maxim

Home ยป Habeas Corpus


Literal Meaning

Produce the body

Origin

Latin

Explanation

The writ of Habeas Corpus is issued by a court or judge directing one (a public official) who holds an imprisoned person in custody, to produce the person before the court for some specified purpose. The procedure provides a means for inmates, or others acting on their behalf, to dispute the legal basis for confinement.

A writ of habeas corpus is not in itself a remedy, but instead, a legal procedure used as a protection against arbitrary detention. A person shall seek for this writ from a court to obtain immediate release from unlawful confinement, as when the confinement has occurred through a means that violated the person’s constitutional rights. The characteristic element of the writ and the theory behind the whole procedure observed by the court was the immediate determination of the right of the applicant’s freedom and his release when the detention is found to be unlawful.

Case Laws

In Mahesh Chand Vs. the State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court held that the law is now well settled that if the detention is illegal, the remedy is not the bail but a petition for Habeas Corpus.

In Dr. M.C. Sharma, Lecturer vs. The Punjab University, the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that Article 226 of the Constitution of India confers power upon the High Court to issue to any person or authority including in appropriate cases any Government, orders or writs including the writs in the nature of Habeas Corpus, mandamus, Prohibition, quo-warranto and certiorari or any one of them for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III or for any other purpose.

In Kanu Sanyal vs. District Magistrate, the Supreme Court held that the habeas corpus was essentially a procedural writ dealing with the machinery of justice. The object underlying the writ was to secure the release of a person who is illegally deprived of his liberty. The writ declared the court is a command addressed to the person who is alleged to have another person unlawfully in his custody, requiring him to bring the body of such person before the court in order that the circumstances of the detention maybe enquired into and an appropriate judgment rendered upon a judicial inquiry into the alleged unlawful restraint.

The scope of the writ of habeas corpus has considerably increased by virtue of the decision of the Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, and also by the adoption of the forty-fourth amendment to the Constitution. Since the judicial interpretation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution has extended the magnitude of the concept of the personal liberty and the Court introduced the element -of fairness and justness in the ‘procedure established by law’, now a writ of habeas corpus would lie if the law depriving a person of his personal liberty is not fair, just and equitable.