The word “mandamus” means “the order”. The writ of mandamus is thus order by a superior court commanding a person or  a public authority, including the Government and public corporations, to do or forbear to do something in the nature of public duty or in certain cases of a statutory duty. For instance a licensing officer is under a duty to issue a license to an applicant who fulfills all the conditions laid down for the issue of such license. But despite the fulfillment of such conditions if the officer or the authority
concerned refuses or fails to issue the  license the aggrieved person has a right to seek the remedy through a writ of mandamus.

      The Writ of mandamus can be granted only when there is in the petitioner a right to compel the performance of the duty cast on the authority.


Writ of mandamus will not granted in the following circumstances:

1) Private duty :

        The writ of mandamus can be issued where the person or authority against whom this writ is sought to be issued must have public duties to perform and there must have been failure in performance of that duty by him. This writ cannot be issued for performance of private duty.   

       Where the duty cast on the public officer is discretionary in nature, the writ of mandamus will not be granted . For example : in the case of State of M.P. v. G. C. Mandawara, AIR 1954 SC 493 made a rule making it discretionary to grant dearness allowance to its employees at a particular rate. The Supreme Court Held that a Writ of mandamus could not be issued to the Government to exercise its power of granting dearness allowance. 

   
2) Duty must be mandatory -

        The person or the authority against whom the writ is sought to be issued must have some public duties to perform. The performance of Duty must be mandatory and not discretionary , and there have been
failure on his part to perform that duty.

          The writ of mandamus will not be granted against private individual or private organization because they have not been entrusted with any public duty to perform. It has been held as such by Calcutta High Court in Barada Kant v. State of West Bengal AIR 1963.Culcatta 161.



3) Petitioner must have a legal right to compel the performance of public duty :

           The petitioner should have a legal right to compel the performance of that public duty to the public officer to refrain from doing that duty. That duty should not be contractual.

  A writ of mandamus cannot be granted to enforce an obligation arising out of contract.



4) President  of India and Governor of a State cannot be compelled to perform their duty .


            Writ of mandamus cannot be issued against the President of India or the Governor of a State for the exercise of powers and duties of his office or any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties. In this context Article 361 of the Constitution provides that the President or the Governor of a State, shall not be answerable to any Court for the exercise and performance of powers and duties of his office or for any act done or  purporting to be done in the exercise and performance of these powers and duties. [See Powers of the Governor ]



5) Judges of High Court and Supreme court cannot be compelled to perform their duty.


           Similarly, where the High Court or any judge thereof acts in judicial capacity, as distinguished from administrative capacity, the writ of mandamus will not be granted against the High Court or the judge thereof. It has been held so by Kerala High Court in Prabhakaran vs State  AIR, 1970 Kerala 27.



  
See Also : 

1) Powers of the Governor

2) Powers of the President

3) Privilege of the President

4) Constitutional Remedies

5) Legislative Powers of the President

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