The Supreme Court in judgment delivered on Friday observed that the High Courts are duty bound to issue a Writ of Mandamus for enforcement of a public duty.
The Bench comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Indu Malhotra pronounced the judgment on the appeal against the judgment passed by Bombay High court. The bench said:
In appropriate cases, in order to prevent injustice to the parties, the Court may itself pass an order or give directions which the government or the public authorities should have passed, had it properly and lawfully exercised its discretion.
The Court stated that;
The Court is duty bound to issue a writ of Mandamus for enforcement of a public duty. There can be no doubt that an important requisite for issue of Mandamus is that Mandamus lies to enforce a legal duty. This duty must be shown to exist towards the applicant. A statutory duty must exist before it can be enforced through Mandamus. Unless a statutory duty or right can be read in the provision, Mandamus cannot be issued to enforce the same.
The High Court is not deprived of its jurisdiction to entertain a petition under Article 226 merely because in considering the petitioner’s right to relief questions of fact may fall to be determined. In a petition under Article 226 the High Court has jurisdiction to try issues both of fact and law. Exercise of the jurisdiction is, it is true, discretionary, but the discretion must be exercised on sound judicial principles.