The writ issued by Supreme Court and High Court differs mainly in three aspects:
Habeas corpus is a Latin term which literally means “You may have the body”. The concept of writ of habeas corpus has originated from England. This is a writ or legal action which can be used by a person to seek relief from illegal detention. The writ is a direction of the Court to a person who is detaining another, commanding him to bring the body of the person in his custody at a specified time to a specified place for a specified purpose.
A writ of habeas corpus has only one purpose: to set at liberty a person who is confined without legal justification; to secure release from confinement of a person unlawfully detained. The writ does not punish the wrongdoer. If the detention is proved unlawful, the person who secures liberty through the writ may proceed against the wrongdoer in any appropriate manner. The writ is issued not only against authorities of the State but also to private individuals or organizations if necessary.
The Latin word 'mandamus' means 'we command'. The writ of 'mandamus' is an order of the High Court or the Supreme Court commanding a person or a body to do its duty. Usually,it is an order directing the performance of ministerial acts. A ministerial act is one which a person or body is obliged by law to perform under given circumstances. For instance, a licensing officer is obliged to issue a license to an applicant if the latter fulfills all the conditions laid down for the issue of such license. Similarly, an appointing authority should issue a letter of appointment to a candidate if all the formalities of selection are over and if the candidate is declared fit for the appointment. But despite the fulfillment of such conditions, if the officer or the authority concerned refuses or fails to issue the appointment letter, the aggrieved person has a right to seek the remedy through a writ of 'mandamus'.
Literally, Certiorari means to be certified. It is issued by the higher court to the lower court either to transfer the case pending with the latter to itself or to squash the order already passed by an inferior court, tribunal or quasi judicial authority. The conditions necessary for the issue of writ of certiorari.
The Writ of prohibition means to forbid or to stop and it is popularly known as 'Stay Order'. This writ is issued when a lower court or a body tries to transgress the limits or powers vested in it. The writ of prohibition is issued by any High Court or the Supreme Court to any inferior court, or quasi judicial body prohibiting the latter from continuing the proceedings in a particular case, where it has no jurisdiction to try. After the issue of this writ, proceedings in the lower court etc. come to a stop.
The word Quo-Warranto literally means “by what warrants?” or “what is your authority”? It is a writ issued with a view to restrain a person from holding a public office to which he is not entitled. The writ requires the concerned person to explain to the Court by what authority he holds the office. If a person has usurped a public office, the Court may direct him not to carry out any activities in the office or may announce the office to be vacant. Thus High Court may issue a writ of quo-warranto if a person holds an office beyond his retirement age.