- Apprentice Lawyer
Writ proceedings cannot lie against a purely private body, the Allahabad High Court recently reiterated while dismissing a writ petition moved against Mahindra Finance bank (Arif Khan v. Branch Manager Mahindra Finance Sultanpur & Another).
"It is not the case of the petitioner that the Mahindra Finance is an authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, nor it is alleged that there is any violation of any statutory provisions in the present case", the Court observed as it dismissed the plea.
The petitioner, in this case, had sought a writ of mandamus to compel the Mahindra Finance to provide a certain customer ID and to receive certain due amounts in easy instalments.
In November, last year, the Court had raised doubts over the maintainability of the writ petition, since the petition was against a private bank i.e. Mahindra Finance.
Upon finding the petitioner's response on this count unconvincing, the Bench of Justices Alok Singh and Karunesh Singh Pawar dismissed the petition on Tuesday.
In doing so, the Court also relied on the Supreme Court's ruling in Federal Bank Ltd. Vs. Sagar Thomas & Ors,, wherein the top Court had ruled that private companies, including private banks, would normally not be amenable to the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.
In that case, the Supreme Court had further clarified that a "private body or a person may be amenable to writ jurisdiction only where it may become necessary to compel such body or association to enforce any statutory obligations or such obligations of public nature casting positive obligation upon it."
In view of this position, the High Court found no reason to entertain the writ petition against Mahindra Finance, being a purely private body.
" ... we are of the view that no grounds have been made out to issue any mandamus to a purely private body, namely, Mahindra Finance in the facts of the present case ... The writ petition is, accordingly, dismissed," the Court ruled.
On a related note, the High Court had ruled recently that private financial institutions that may be performing public duties are not covered under the definition of "State" under Article 12 of the Constitution of India. Hence, a writ petition against such an entity is also not maintainable before the High Court.