Jammu and Kashmir HC: Private Law Remedies Against Public Bodies Not Enforceable Through Writ Jurisdiction Unless Their Functions Had Public Element

LI Network

Published on: February 5, 2024 at 12:40 IST

In a recent ruling, the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court have clarified the boundaries between public and private law matters, asserting that private remedies cannot be pursued through extraordinary writ jurisdiction, even when dealing with public authorities.

Justice Javed Iqbal Wani, presiding over the bench, emphasized that while a body’s duty might render it amenable to writ jurisdiction, not all its functions are subject to judicial review unless they inherently possess a public element.


The case involved a minor student who allegedly faced denial of admission to class 11th in a private school due to her father’s legal actions against the school administration. The petitioner, the student’s father, sought her admission and compensation for alleged harassment through a writ petition.

The petitioner argued that the school’s actions violated the student’s right to education and constituted harassment. He claimed that despite the school receiving government aid and being affiliated with the state board, its actions were maliciously motivated by personal reasons.

Observations of The Court:

Justice Wani, after examining the nature of the dispute, noted that the petition primarily addressed private wrongs allegedly committed by the school administration and lacked a discernible public element in the allegations.

“It is manifest and evident that the petitioner has alleged private wrongs to have been committed by the respondents 3 to 6 herein without having any public element therein being sine qua non for maintaining the writ petition and seeking the reliefs/writs as have been sought in the writ petition,” the Court recorded.

Citing precedents such as “St. Mary’s Education Society vs. Rajendra Prasad Bhargava” and “K.K. Saksena vs. International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage,” the bench reiterated that private law remedies cannot be enforced through writ jurisdiction, even against public authorities. It emphasized that where an action is essentially of a private character, a writ petition would not be maintainable.

The Court also noted that the petitioner had obtained a Discharge/Transfer Certificate from the school during the petition’s pendency, rendering the matter infructuous. Consequently, the requested reliefs could not be granted, leading to the dismissal of the petition.

Case Title: Maheen Showkat Vs UT of J&K”

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