Continuing Mandamus

Continuing Mandamus is a writ of Mandamus issued to a lower authority by the higher authority in general public interest asking the officer or the authority to perform its task expeditiously for an unstipulated period of time for preventing miscarriage of justice.

The concept of Continuing Mandamus has been discussed and dealt with in the respective cases of Vineet Narain v. Union of India[1] and Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India & Ors.[2]

When a petition is filed under Article 32 or Article 226 of the Constitution of India in the Supreme Court or the High Court respectively, the court can issue the writ of Mandamus in the interest of general public welfare. The facts and circumstances of the cases were of utmost public importance, and the increasing need for preservation of democracy and equality in this society. The investigation into every accusation made against each person on a reasonable basis, irrespective of the position and status of that person, must be conducted and completed expeditiously. This is imperative to retain public confidence in the impartial working of the Government agencies.

The Courts, in these cases did not concern themselves with the accusations on a meritorious basis, but only by the due performance of the duties and obligations on the part of the government agencies to fairly, fully and properly investigate into every such accusation against every person, and to take the logical final action in accordance with the law.

If the charge sheet is filed against the relevant person in the competent court, the court shall deal with the case in accordance with the laws. In case, a prima facie case cannot be made out against an individual, it should be closed and quickly submitted to the court for its satisfaction that the concerned authorities have not come to a conclusion.

The court ruled that as great public interest was involved in this matter, the CBI and other revenue agencies of the government should perform their tasks properly and expeditiously to prevent unnecessary delays in investigation. The writ issued by the court was continuous, and for an unstipulated period of time. The National agencies and authorities would be obliged to perform their tasks diligently and dutifully, taking into consideration, national and public interest.

A special reference as to the initiation of Inquisitorial proceedings was also made by the Supreme Court, to facilitate this epistolary proceedings (suo moto cognizance), a Public interest litigation cell has been opened in the Supreme Court to which letters addressed to the Court or individual judges are forwarded which are placed before the Chief Justice after scrutiny by the staff attached to the cell. This implies that the court is not bound by the Civil Procedure Code and the Evidence Act and can devise inquisitorial or other suitable procedure to achieve the object and purpose of Article 32 of the Constitution of India.


  1. Vineet Narain v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 3386
  2. Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India, AIR 1984 SC 802
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