Definition: legal  proceeding  during  which  an  individual’s  right  to  hold  an  office  or  governmental  privilege  is  challenged.


Legal definition of qou warranto:

1: an  extra  ordinary  writ  requiring  a  person  or  corporation  to  show  by  what  right  or  authority  a  public  office  or  franchise  is  held  or  exercised

2: a  proceeding  in  the  nature   of  a  writ  of  quo  warranto  for   determining  by  what  authority  or  right  an  office  or  franchise  is  held  or  exercised  and  seeking  as  an extra  ordinary  remedy the  discontinuance  of  an  unlawful  exercise  of  office  or  franchise.


Introduction: writ  of  Qou warranto,  an  order  issued  by  authority  of  the  king, was  of  great  importance. It  is  not  being  used  since  centuries  as  it’s  procedure  was  not  so  realistic.

Now  a  days, it  has  been  replaced  by  an  information  in  nature  of  Qou  warranto  which  is  an  extraordinary  remedy , under  this  writ  prosecuting  attorney  who  represents  public  at  large  can  challenge  any government official for  neglect  and  abuse  of  powers.  This  writ  is  regarded  as  a  civil  action  rather  than  criminal  one. Qou  warranto is  the  only  legal  remedy  which  provides  other  forms  of  relief  and  can  enact  legislation.

Statutes  which  describe  qou  warranto  show  where  it  is  appropriate. It  functions  where  any  public  office  or  authority  is  being  abused. For  example  it  can  be  used  to  challenge  unauthorized  practice  of  a  profession  like  law  or  medicine. In  such  cases,  the  challenge  is  for  defendant  that  he  is  not  allowed  to  hold  the  position  he  claims,  a  medical  doctor,  for  example.

In  some  cases  of  qou  warranto  the  issue  is  whether  the  defendant  has  got  authority  to  hold  the  office  he  claims,  or  to  exercise  the  powers  given  by  the  government. However, some  proceedings  also  have  challenged     the  right  to  the  position  of  county  commissioner,  treasurer,  school   board  member,  district  attorney,  judge,  or  tax  commissioner. Certain  cases  show  that  writ  of  qou  warranto  is  also  available  to  challenge  the  persons  who  are  acting  as  officers  or  directors  of  business  corporation.

The  writ  of  qou  warranto  is  not  actually  a  petition  but  its  a  notice  of  demand  to  the  respondent  who  claims  some  delegated  power,  and  it  is  filed  with  court  of  competent  jurisdiction,  to  hold  hearing  within  3  to  20  days, it  depends  on the  distance  of  the  respondent  to  the  court  to  present  the  proof  of  his  authority  to  execute  his  claimed  powers.

At  the  time  of  proceedings,  if  court  does  not  finds  accurate  proof  or  it  fails  to  hold  the  hearing  then  the  respondent  must  cease  to  exercise  the  power  and  the  position  he  is  holding  in  public  office,  in case  of  public  office  he  must  vacate  the  office  if  he  fails  to  prove  himself  right.

Case law:

Before John Smith,

James Green – Petitioner


NATIONAL DATABASE REGISTRATION AUTHORITY through Chairman and 3 others – Respondents

Writ Petition No.  1234 of   2010, decided on 13th December, 2010.

Facts: In  this  case  petitioner  issued  writ  of  qou  warranto  against  the  elected  Member  of  National  Assembly  to  appear  before  high  court  and  to  prove  how  she  is  holding  the  alleged  seat  of  National  Assembly  when  she  had  not  personally  appeared  in  her  B.A.  Examination in the year 2002 and the B.A.  Degree  had  been  presented  by  fraud  and  she  had  to  be  disqualified  to  be  elected  and  to  be  holding  her  position  in  National  Assembly  after  getting  record  verification  of  the    National  Database  and  Regulatory  Authority  and  university  record  of  degree. Later  on,  the  records  revealed  that  the  petitioner  had  used  the  record  of  election  petition  which  was  pending  before  an  Election  Tribunal  and  wanted  a  second  decision  on  the  basis  of  said  record  from  High  Court.

How writ was applied?

As the writ of quo warranto is to question officials and this woman was holding the seat of National Assembly with fraud and was inquired about it.

Held: Constitutional petition was dismissed by the High Court.  The  respected  judge  said  that  he  is  not  persuaded  to  entertain  this  writ  petition, which  is  accordingly  dismissed  due  to  the  facts  and  figures  presented  before  court  in  order  to  prove  innocence  of  respondent.

Petition dismissed.

Re-opening of case: later in 2013 the case was re-opened by the appeal of petitioner and the defendant John Smith was disqualified from the office she was holding in National Assembly because her alleged documents were declared to be of another lady who got her degree from Punjab University.  

Conclusion: Quo  warranto  usually  functions  in  civil  cases  as  the  plaintiff  claims  a cause  of  action  that  any  governmental  or  corporate  official  was  not  elected  by  a  valid  procedure  or  is  wrongfully  exercising  his  powers  beyond  the  limits  he  is  been  authorized.


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