Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

By what warrant (or authority)?




Quo warranto is a writ or a legal action requiring a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or by demanding to know by what authority or right it is doing what it is doing. In general, this writ tests a person’s legal right to hold an office, not to evaluate the person’s performance in the office. If the court finds the proof insufficient, the respondent must cease to exercise the power. The burden of proof lies on the respondent. In India, the above writ is issued by the Supreme Court under Article 32 and by the High Court under article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Case Laws

In The University Of Mysore And Anr vs C. D. Govinda Rao And Anr, the Supreme Court of India observed that the quo warranto proceeding gives the judiciary a weapon to control the Executive from making appointments to public office against law and to protect a citizen from being deprived of public office to which he has a right.

In B.R. Kapoor vs the State of Tamil Nadu And Anr, the Supreme Court of India held that “Quo Warranto is a writ which lies against the person, who according to the relator is not entitled to hold an office of public nature and is only a usurper of the office. It is the person, against whom the writ of quo warranto is directed, who is required to show, by what authority that person is entitled to hold the office.”

In B. Srinivasa Reddy vs Karnataka Urban Water Supply, the Supreme Court of India held that “The High Court in the exercise of its writ jurisdiction in a matter of this nature is required to determine, at the outset, as to whether a case has been made out for issuance of a writ of quo warranto. The jurisdiction of the High Court to issue a writ of quo warranto is a limited one which can only be issued when the appointment is contrary to the statutory rules.”

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