The writ of mandamus can be granted only when there is in the petitioner a right to compel the performance of the duty cast on the authority. The duty should be Imperative and not discretionary. Where a licensing authority is under a duty to issue a license to an applicant who fulfils all the conditions for the Issuance of a license.
But despite fulfilling all the conditions, if the officer or the authority concerned refuses or falls to issue the license, the aggrieved person has a right to seek the remedy through a writ of mandamus.
When will it lie?
The writ of mandamus would be issued when there is a failure to perform a mandatory duty.
Here the party must show that he has made a distinct demand to enforce that duty but the demand has been refused. In Saraswati Industrial Syndicate Ltd. v. Union of India, AIR 1975 S.C. 460, it has been held that the writ of mandamus can only be granted when there is in the applicant a right to compel the performance of some duty cast upon the authority. The duty must be a public duty cast by law. A private right cannot be enforced by the writ of mandamus.
The writ of mandamus can be issued to public authority to restrain it from acting under a law which has been declared unconstitutional.
When will it not lie?
A writ of mandamus will not be granted in the following situations:
(1) Where the duty is merely discretionary in nature, the writ of mandamus will not lie. In State of M.P. v. Mandawar, AIR 1954 S.C. 493, the Supreme Court has held that the writ of mandamus could not be issued to compel the government to exercise its discretionary power.
(2) A writ of mandamus does not lie against a private individual or a private organisation because they are not entrusted with a public duty.
(3) A writ of mandamus could not be granted to enforce an obligation arising out of a contract.