In this case, the Supreme Court clarified that a writ of certiorari can correct a legal error evident on the record, but it cannot address a factual error.

The appeal pertains to the extent of the High Court's jurisdiction in issuing a writ of certiorari concerning decisions made by the appropriate authorities regarding the granting or refusal of permits under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939

Case Title: Syed Yakoob v. K.S. Radhakrishnan & Others

Court: Supreme Court of India

Citation: 1964 AIR 477, 1964 SCR (5) 64

Judge: Justice P.B. Gajendragadkar, Justice K.N. Wanchoo, Justice J.C. Shah and Justice Raghubar Dayal

Date of Judgment: 07/10/1963


A notification was issued by the State Transport Authority for “two-stage carriage permits for the route Madras to Chidambaram”, under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. After receiving a large number of applications, it was decided by the Authority that the first permit was to be granted to one of the applicants among those who had applied. Notably, the second permit was not granted to already-received applications and a fresh round of applications was called for again.

Appeal made to State Transport Appellate Tribunal by Appellant:

At this juncture, the appellant appealed to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, and several other applicants also appealed. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal decided that the permit granted to the earlier received applicant was confirmed. The second permit for which the appeal had been made was thereby granted to the appellant as per the decision of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal.

Writ Petition by Respondent:

Against this decision, a writ petition was filed under Article 226 in the High Court by Respondent No. 1. While dealing with this matter, the High Court further held that the State Transport Appellate Tribunal had not considered relevant considerations and that the decision passed by it was structured on a base of irrelevant considerations. The Rule was thus made absolute.

Letters Patent Appeal made by Appellant:

Furthermore, a Letters Patent Appeal was then made by the appellant whereby he appealed to the Division Bench of the High Court against the single-judge bench decision whereby the State Transport Appellate Tribunal’s order had been stated to be incorrect. Here as well, the Division Bench agreed with the reasoning that the single judge bench had previously given, which was that the State Transport Appellate Tribunal had disregarded the considerations that were of utmost relevance to the case and that the decision was taken incorrectly. Thus the appeal was not allowed.

Appeal by Appellant to the Supreme Court:

The appellant thereby approached the Supreme Court requesting by way of special leave that the apex court must correct the extended jurisdiction that the High Court has thereby practised by way of the writ of certiorari filed under Article 226.


  • Whether the High Court had exceeded its jurisdiction by issuing the writ of certiorari under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution?


While deciding the case, the apex court delved into the matter of defining and describing the scope of the writ of certiorari to decipher whether the same had been exceeded by the High Court.

Certiorari - Scope and Application

The court highlighted that the writ of certiorari is used to correct any “errors of jurisdiction” that may have been committed by the subsequent courts or tribunals against whom the said writ is filed. The scope thereby also covers any circumstances whereby the authority being court or tribunal either failed to exercise its jurisdiction or exercised it illegally or improperly, meaning to say “where an order is passed without hearing the party sought to be affected by it or where the procedure adopted is opposed to principles of natural justice.”

It was also emphasized that the power to issue the writ of certiorari is merely supervisory and therefore it must not lead the court to behave in a manner that is contrary to that of acting as a court of appeal. Therefore, it could be concluded by the court’s inference of the scope and applicability of the writ of certiorari that the same did not at any stage involve a challenge to the findings of fact arrived at by the inferior court or tribunal and that the same is to be considered binding.

The court with the assistance of cases such as Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Syed Ahmed Ishaque, [1955] 1 S.C.R. 1104 and Nagendra Nath Bora v. The Commissioner of Hills Division and Appeals, Assam, [1958] S.C.R. 1240 emphasized:

“An error of law apparent on the face of the record can, however, be corrected by a writ of certiorari, but not an error of fact however grave it may appear to be.”

While referring to the present case, the court also stated that certiorari can be used in cases where while the recording of fact is admissible, there has been omission concerning the admission of material evidence or any inadmissible evidence has been admitted. Thus, a finding of fact which is based on no material evidence or false material evidence would also lead to an “error of law” and thus writ of certiorari can be filed.

Supreme Court Upholds Appellant's Argument

The Hon'ble Supreme Court held

“The contention raised on behalf of the appellant was well founded and must prevail.”

The court while dealing with the matter also elaborated how the said matter is within the purview of Article 136 of the Indian Constitution. The court stated that the present matter required its extraordinary jurisdiction for the sole matter that previously, there had not been accorded due regard to the claim that had been set up and thus it was imperative to define and reiterate the scope of certiorari and correct any injustice that may have been caused due to its ambiguous applicability.

The Hon'ble Supreme Court stated that the High Court had exceeded its jurisdiction in the present case by issuing the writ of certiorari as the court cannot act as a court of appeal or check an error of fact. Since there was no case of violation of the natural justice principle, it was not required by the High Court to issue certiorari.

The court thus ordered that the appeal be allowed and that the writ petition that had been filed by Respondent No.1 be dismissed. The court also ordered Respondent No.1 to pay the costs of the appellant in the apex court and that Respondent No. 2 and 3 must bear their costs.

Snehil Sharma

Snehil Sharma

Snehil Sharma is an advocate with an LL.M specializing in Business Law. He is a legal research aficionado and is actively indulged in legal content creation. His forte is researching on contemporary legal issues.

Next Story