quill.gif (3183 bytes) Access to Courts:  India Cases
Jump to Case List


 Relevant Articles of the Indian Constitution:

 Article 32 Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part

  • (1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed.
  • (2) The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warrant to and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part.
  • (3) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clauses (1) and (2), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause (2).
  • (4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.

Article 226 Power of High Courts to issue certain rights

  • (1) Notwithstanding anything in article 32, every High Court shall have power, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.
  • (2) The power conferred by clause (1) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories.
  • (3) Where any party against whom an interim order, whether by way of injunction or stay or in any other manner, is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition under clause (1), without - (a) furnishing to such party copies of such petition and all documents in support of the plea for such interim order; and (b) giving such party an opportunity of being heard, makes an application to the High Court for the vacation of such order and furnishes a copy of such application to the party in whose favour such order has been made or the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of the application within a period of two weeks from the date on which it is received or from the date on which the copy of such application is so furnished, whichever is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that period, before the expiry of the next day afterwards on which the High Court is open; and if the application is not so disposed of, the interim order shall, on the expiry of that period, or, as the case may be, the expiry of the said next day, stand vacated.
  • (4) The power conferred on a High Court by this article shall not be in derogation of the power conferred on the Supreme Court by clause (2) of article 32.

Introduction (from Bills of Rights Comparative Law Materials):

Articles 32 and 226 are the provisions of the Constitution that together provide an effective guarantee that every person has a fundamental right of access to courts. Article 32 confers power on the Supreme Court to enforce the fundamental rights. It provides a guaranteed, quick and summary remedy for enforcing the Fundamental Rights because a person can go straight to the Supreme Court without having to go undergo the dilatory process of proceeding from the lower to higher court as he has to do in other ordinary litigation. The Supreme Court is thus constitution the protector and guarantor of the fundamental rights.

The High courts have a parallel power under Article 226 to enforce the fundamental rights. Article 226 differs from Article 32 in that whereas Article 32 can be invoked only for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights, Article 226 can be invoked not only for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights but for any ‘other purpose’ as well. This means that the Supreme Court’s power under Article 32 is restricted as compared with the power of a High Court under Article 226, for, if an administrative action does not affect a Fundamental Right, then it can be challenged only in the High Court under Article 226, and not in the Supreme Court under Article 32. Another corollary to this difference is that a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) writ petition can be filed in Supreme Court under Article 32 only if a question concerning the enforcement of a fundamental right is involved. Under Article 226, a writ petition can be filed in a High court whether or not a Fundamental Right is involved.

The provision of legal aid is fundamental to promoting access to courts. The Supreme Court of India has taken imaginative measures to promote access to justice when people would otherwise be denied their fundamental rights. It has done this by the twin strategy of loosening the traditional rules of locus standi, and relaxing procedural rules in such cases. Thus where it receives a letter addressed to it by an individual acting pro bono publico, it may treat the letter as a writ initiating legal proceedings. In appropriate cases it has appointed commissioners or expert bodies to undertake fact-finding investigations. Thus, the mechanism of PIL now serves a much broader function that merely espousal of the grievances of the weak and the disadvantaged persons. It is now being used to ventilate public grievances where the society as a whole, rather than a specific individual, feels aggrieved.

Several sections of the constitution such as Articles 13 (Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights (are void)); 14 (Equality before law); 20 (Protection in respect of conviction for offenses); 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty); 22 (Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases); 38 (State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people); 39 (Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State) have been interpreted in conjunction with Article 32 and 226 to extend right of access to courts and judicial redress in various matters.



Human and Constitutional Rights Resource Page

Comparative Bills of Rights || India Page