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Now a days, it has been replaced by an information in nature of Qou warranto which is an extraordinary remedy , under this writ prosecuting attorney who represents public at large can challenge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.
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.
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.