Writs are written instruments from a superior court (i.e., the Supreme Court or a High Court) that provide constitutional remedies against the violation of one’s fundamental rights, which are accessible to the citizens under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution of India. With regards to issuing a writ, there needs to be various conditions or essentials that need to be met with. In the Gulabchand Gupta case, the subject matter revolves around two writs, in particular, namely the Writ of Certiorari and the Writ of Mandamus. In the case of the former, the grounds are,
- Lack of jurisdiction, excess of jurisdiction, or abuse of jurisdiction.
- Violation of principles of Natural justice, &
- The error is of law apparent on the face of the record.
and in case of a Writ of Mandamus, the essentials to be met with are,
- Existence of public or common-law duty.
- Specific demand and refusal for the fulfilment of such duty.
- Presence of an explicit right to enforce such duty, &
- Subsistence of such right on the date of such petition.
Mandamus can be issued on all the grounds on which writ of Certiorari and prohibition can be issued, and it can be provided not only to compel the authority to do something but also to restrain such authority from doing some act. 
FACTS OF THE CASE
- Here, the petitioner was Gulabchand Gupta, and the respondents were the Hitkarini Sabha, Manmohandas, and others.
- Petitioners here filed two petitions, namely Misc. Petition No. 360 of 1962 & Misc. Petition No. 409 of 1962 before the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
- Petitioners claim to be the Life Members of the Hitkarini Sabha in Jabalpur (hereinafter referred to as ‘Sabha’), which is a society registered under The Societies Registration Act of 1860. The aims & objects of the said Sabha is to promote the “moral, social, and intellectual interests and well-being of the people” and to extend and promote “literary, technical and other useful knowledge amongst the people ordinarily by maintaining a High School, an Arts College, a Law College.”
- Here, the petitioner in the Misc. Petition No. 360 of 1962 challenged the validity of an Ordinary General Meeting, which was held on 29/09/1962, to enrol 32 new members to the Sabha and make Respondent no.2, Manmohandas as, the Sabha’s chairman. Via this petition, the petitioners sought the issuance of a Writ of Certiorari to quash the proceedings and the decisions taken at the meeting.
- In Misc. Petition No. 409 of 1962, the petitioners challenged the validity of the action by the Sabha that deemed the recognized life membership of the petitioners in the said Sabha to be illegal, void, and inoperative. Via this petition, they sought the Court to issue a writ like a mandamus to direct the respondents to restore the status quo of the petitioners regarding their membership, treat the petitioners as life members and forbear from interfering in their rights, duties, and privileges associated with such membership.
The common preliminary question that arose before the Madhya Pradesh High Court was whether the Court could issue the sought writs to the Sabha in both these petitions.
The contention of the petitioners:
- Shri Dube, appearing for the petitioners in Misc. Petition No. 360 of 1962 contended that the Hitkarini Sabha was a corporate body that had framed its by-laws, rules, and regulations for the operation and conduct of its business. He further argued that it discharged public functions as the Sabha ran a school, college, etc. So, as a public body discharging public duties, it had to act according to its framed by-laws, rules, and regulations, and decisions and actions contrary to the same could be quashed via a writ of Certiorari.
- Shri Choubey, appearing for the petitioners in Misc. Petition No. 409 of 1962 supported the contentions made by Shri Dube and further contended that a writ like a mandamus could be issued against the respondents for the unlawful deprivation caused by their actions to the petitioners in the enjoyment of their office as life members of the Sabha.
This case was presided over by P V Dixit, C.J & K L Pandey, J and here, the Madhya Pradesh High Court was of the view that the writ of Certiorari and writ of Mandamus sought by petitioners could not be issued to the respondents and held that the petitions weren’t maintainable and thus dismissed them.
THE REASONING OF THE COURT
- With regards to Misc. Petition No. 360 of 1962 seeking a writ of Certiorari,
the conditions to issue the writ, laid down by the Supreme Court in – Province of Bombay v. Khushaldas, T.C. Basappa v. T Nagappa, Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaque, and several other cases weren’t fulfilled. Hence a writ of Certiorari couldn’t be issued against the Sabha. The basic idea laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in these cases was that “whenever anybody of persons having legal authority to determine questions affecting rights of subjects and having the duty to act judicially, acts more than their legal authority, a writ of certiorari may issue.”
Also, as held in T.C. Basappa v. T Nagappa, an essential principle concerning the issue of a writ of Certiorari is that the writ can be availed only to eradicate or decide upon the validity of judicial acts, and the term “judicial acts” here is inclusive of the exercise of quasi-judicial functions by administrative bodies, other authorities or persons obliged to exercise such functions as well. In the Hari Vishnu Kamath case, the Supreme court further laid down that a writ of Certiorari could be issued to correct an error of law apparent on the face of the record and also listed the following conditions in which the writ could be issued, namely
- to correct jurisdictional errors, i.e., when an inferior Court or Tribunal fails to exercise its proper jurisdiction, acts without jurisdiction or more than it.
- when the Court or tribunal violates the principles of natural justice.
- when the Superior Court issuing such writ acts in the exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction and not its appellate jurisdiction.
In the instant case, though the Sabha framed its by-laws, rules, and regulations for the management and operation of its business, the election of members, conduct of meetings, etc. and is expected to comply and act by the same, it still cannot be considered as a body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. Though the Sabha ran a college or a school and did much to promote the moral, social, educational, and intellectual well-being of the people, it necessarily didn’t have a duty under a statute to make decisions affecting the rights of the subjects and to act judicially in taking such decisions.
Though the Sabha is registered under The Societies Registration Act of 1860, it merely gets the status of a ‘legal entity from such registration, and the said Act doesn’t place any authority on the Sabha to decide and determine questions that affect the rights of subjects nor does it impose any duty on the Sabha to act judicially in determining such questions.
- With regards to Misc. Petition No. 409 of 1962 seeking a writ of Mandamus against the respondents,
the Sabha here wasn’t a public body constituted by or under any Statute. Hence, neither the petitioners, who claimed to be life members of the Sabha nor the respondents could be considered persons holding an office of public nature. So, a Writ of Mandamus, which lies to compel and facilitate the restoration of a person to a public office or franchise of which he has wrongfully been dispossessed, cannot be issued here to restore the petitioners to their status as life members
Gulabchand Gupta v. the Hitkarini Sabha & Ors. is a landmark judgment regarding issuing a Writ of Certiorari and Mandamus. It helps the readers understand the conditions and essentials that need to be fulfilled for issuing the same and regarding these writs in the ambit of bodies not exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions and bodies’ non-public in nature, respectively.
Author(s) Name: Vishal Raghavan N S (KLE Society’s Law College, Bangalore)
 Constitution of India (India), art 32
 Constitution of India (India), art 226
 Gulabchand Gupta v. the Hitkarini Sabha & Ors  AIR 1963 MP 270
 I P Massey, Administrative Law (first published 1980, Eastern Book Company 2022) 402-406
 I P Massey, Administrative Law (first published 1980, Eastern Book Company 2022) 408-411
 The Societies Registration Act 1860 (India)
 Province of Bombay v. Khushaldas , AIR 1950 SC 222
 T.C. Basappa v. T Nagappa , AIR 1954 SC 440
 Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaque , AIR 1955 SC 233
 ‘Gulabchand Gupta v. the Hitkarini Sabha, Jabalpur and Others’ (Casemine) https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5609782be4b0149711339ee6 accessed 07 June 2022