Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is Habeas Corpus?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Writ Jurisdiction, Habeas Corpus

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Supreme Court has decided to examine a habeas corpus plea made by the children of a Pakistan national who they believe has been unlawfully detained for seven years.

What is Habeas Corpus?

  • Habeas corpus is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court.
  • He/she can request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful.
  • In India the power to issue a writ of habeas corpus is vested only in the Supreme Court and the High Court.
  • Habeas corpus is the writ which was visualized as an effective means to provide a quick remedy to a person who has lost his personal liberty without any legal justification.

What is Article 32?

  • Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, or affirms the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the Constitution.
  • It is one of the fundamental rights listed in the Constitution that each citizen is entitled.
  • It states that the Supreme Court “shall have the power to issue directions or orders or writs for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part”.
  • The right guaranteed by this Article “shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution”.
  • Dr B R Ambedkar has called it the very soul and heart of the Constitution. It cannot be suspended except during the period of Emergency.

Rights protected by A32

  • The article is included in Part III of the Constitution with other fundamental rights including to Equality, Freedom of Speech and Expression, Life and Personal Liberty, and Freedom of Religion.
  • Only if any of these fundamental rights is violated can a person can approach the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.

Types of Writs under it

Both the High Courts and the Supreme Court can be approached for violation or enactment of fundamental rights through five kinds of writs:

  1. Habeas corpus (related to personal liberty in cases of illegal detentions and wrongful arrests)
  2. Mandamus — directing public officials, governments, courts to perform a statutory duty;
  3. Quo Warranto — to show by what warrant is a person holding public office;
  4. Prohibition — directing judicial or quasi-judicial authorities to stop proceedings which it has no jurisdiction for; and
  5. Certiorari — re-examination of an order given by judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative authorities.
  • In civil or criminal matters, the first remedy available to an aggrieved person is that of trial courts, followed by an appeal in the High Court and then the Supreme Court.
  • When it comes to violation of fundamental rights, an individual can approach the High Court under Article 226 or the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.



Try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following is included in the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

  1. Dispute between the Government of India and one or more States
  2. A dispute regarding elections to either House of the parliament or that of Legislature of a State
  3. A dispute between the Government of India and Union Territory
  4. A dispute between two or more States.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 4

(d) 3 and 4


Post your answers here.
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c) 1 and 4


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