This writ is issued against body acting in a judicial and quasi-Judicial manner and not to one which acts in purely administrative manner. A body is regarded as quasi-Judicial if it has authority to determine question affecting legal rights of persons and has the duty to act judicially.
Whether a body is to act in a judicial manner or not is to be determined in each case in the light of the circumstances of the case. The Supreme Court has laid down in Radheshyam v. State of M.P., 1959 S.C. 117, and two propositions for ascertaining whether an authority has to act judicially:
(1) If the statute empowers an authority to decide dispute arising out of a claim made by one party under the statute which claim is opposed by another party, then prima facie and in the absence of anything in the statute to the contrary, it is the duty of the authority to act judicially and the decision of the authority Is quasi-judicial act, and,
(2) If a statutory authority has power to do any act which will prejudicially affect the subject, then although there are not two parties apart from the authority and contest is between the authority proposing to do an act, and the subject opposing it, the final determination of the authority will yet, be a quasi-Judicial act provided the authority is required by the statute to act Judicially.
Grounds on Which this Writ can be Issued:
The writ of certiorari is issued to a judicial or quasi-Judicial body on the following grounds:
(1) Where there is want or excess of Jurisdiction;
(2) Where there is violation of procedure or disregard of principles of natural justice;
(3) Where there is error of law apparent on the face of record but not error of a fact.
In Champalal vs. Commissioner of Income Tax, AIR 1970 S.C. 645, the Supreme Court held that a petition for writ of certiorari may lie to a High Court where the order is on the face of it erroneous or raise question of jurisdiction or infringement of the fundamental rights of the petitioner.
The Supreme Court has explained the meaning of the phrase “error apparent on the face of record”, in the case of Gujarat Steel Tubes vs. its Majdoor Sabha, AIR 1980 S.C. 1896. It was held that every order cannot be corrected merely because it is wrong.
It can be quashed only if it is violated by the fundamental flow of gross Injustice, absence of legal evidence, perverse misleading of facts, and serious error of law on the face of the order, jurisdictional failure and the like.
Further, in Harbans Lal vs. Jagmohan Saran, AIR 1986 S.C. 302, it has been held that the writ of certiorari is issued only if the order of the inferior tribunal or subordinate Court suffers from the error of jurisdiction or from breach of principles of natural justice or it is vitiated by an apparent error of law.
The grounds on which this writ may be issued in a particular case must be self-explanatory and should show that there exists error on the face of the record. The writ of certiorari is a discretionary writ. It is not issued merely because it is lawful to do so.
It is not issued merely because some fundamental right has been infringed but also because the High Court or the Supreme Court finds that on the face of it, the order is erroneous or raises the questions of jurisdiction of the inferior Court.
The function of writ of certiorari is to wipe out or demolish the offending order or the proceeding. The work of the superior court is destructive in this regard In order to cure the malady.