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High Courts



India's unitary judicial system is made up of the Supreme Court of India at the national level, for the entire country and the 25 High Courts at the State level. 

These courts have jurisdiction over a state, a union territory or a group of states and union territories. High Courts are a hierarchy of subordinate courts such as the civil courts, family courts, criminal courts and various other district courts. 

High Courts are instituted as constitutional courts under Part VI, Chapter V, Article 214 of the Indian Constitution.

The High Courts are the principal civil courts of original jurisdiction in the state along with District Courts which are subordinate to the High courts. 

However, High courts exercise their original civil and criminal jurisdiction only if the courts subordinate to the High court in the state are not competent (not authorized by law)to try such matters for lack of pecuniary, territorial jurisdiction. 

High courts may also enjoy original jurisdiction in certain matters if so designated specifically in a state or Federal law. e.g.: Company law cases are instituted only in a High court.

However, primarily the work of most High Courts consists of Appeals from lower courts and writ petitions in terms of Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Writ Jurisdiction is also original jurisdiction of High Court.The precise territorial jurisdiction of each High Court varies.

Each state is divided into judicial districts presided over by a 'District and Sessions Judge'. He is known as a District Judge when he presides over a civil case, and a Sessions Judge when he presides over a criminal case. He is the highest judicial authority below a High Court judge. Below him, there are courts of civil jurisdiction, known by different names in different states.

Under Article 141 of the Constitution of India all courts in India which includes High courts are bound by the judgments and orders of the Supreme Court of India by precedence.

Judges in a High Court are appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the governor of the state. High Courts are headed by a Chief Justice. 

The Chief Justices are ranked #14 (in their state) and #17 (outside their state) in the Indian order of precedence. 

The number of judges in a court is decided by dividing the average institution of main cases during the last five years by the national average, or the average rate of disposal of main cases per judge per year in that High Court, whichever is higher.

The Calcutta High Court is the oldest High Court in the country, established on 2 July 1862. High courts which handle a large number of cases of a particular region, have permanent benches (or a branch of the court) established there.

Benches are also present in states which come under the jurisdiction of a court outside its territorial limits. Smaller states with few cases may have circuit benches established. 

Circuit benches (known as circuit courts in some parts of the world) are temporary courts which hold proceedings for a few selected months in a year. Thus cases built up during this interim period are judged when the circuit court is in session.

Courts under High Court :
  • District Courts of India
  • District Munsiff Court
  • Courts of Judicial Magistrate of First Class
  • Courts of Judicial Magistrate of Second Class

Qualifications:
To be a judge of a High Court a person must
    1. be a citizen of India
    2. have been a judge of a civil and session court in India for atleast ten years
    3. an advocate in a High court for atleast ten years

The Chief Justice draws a salary of Rs.30,000/-per month and other judges draw a salary of Rs.26,000/- per month.

They also get pension and other retirement benefits. The pay and allowances of High Court Judges are changed on the Consolidated Fund of the State.

Powers of High Courts:

The High court is mainly a Court of Appeal. It can hear appeals in both civil and criminal cases.

A person can appeal to the High Court to protect his Fundamental Rights.

The High Court controls and supervises the working of the lower courts.

The High courts is empowered to issue to any person or the Government within its jurisdiction, orders or writs, including writs which are in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo-warranto and certorari.

The High Courts have powers of superintendence over all subordinate courts and tribunals within their jurisdiction.

The Advoate General is appointed by the Governor.

Transfer of Chief Justice:

The President after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transfers a Chief Justice from one High Court to another High Court.

Jurisdiction and Seat of High Courts of India :

Name Year of Est. Jurisdiction Principal seat
Allahabad 1866 Uttar Pradesh Allahabad (Bench at Lucknow)
Andhra Pradesh 2019 Andhra Pradesh Amaravati
Bombay 1862 Maharashtra, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Mumbai (Benches at Nagpur, Panaji and Aurangabad)
Calcutta 1862 West Bengal Calcutta (Circuit Bench at Port Blair)
Chhattisgarh 2000 Chhattisgarh Bilaspur
Delhi 1966 Delhi Delhi
Gauhati 1948 Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland,Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh Guwahati (Benches at Kohima, Aizwal, Itanagar &Imphal.Circuit Bench at Agartala & Shillong)
Gujarat 1960 Gujarat Ahmedabad
Himachal Pradesh 1971 Himachal Pradesh Shimla
Jammu &Kashmir 1928 Jammu &Kashmir Srinagar &Jammu
Jharkhand 2000 Jharkhand Ranchi
Karnataka 1884 Karnataka Bangalore
Kerala 1958 Kerala &Lakshadweep Ernakulam
Madhya Pradesh 1956 Madhya Pradesh Jabalpur (Benches at Gwalior and Indore)
Madras 1862 Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry Chennai (Bench at Madurai)
Manipur 2013 Manipur Imphal
Meghalaya 2013 Meghalaya Shillong
Orissa 1948 Orissa Cuttack
Patna 1916 Bihar Patna
Punjab & Haryana 1975 Punjab,Haryana &Chandigarh Chandigarh
Rajasthan 1949 Rajastan Jodhpur (Bench at Jaipur)
Sikkim 1975 Sikkim Gangtok
Telangana 2019 Telangana Hyderabad
Tripura 2013 Tripura Agartala
Uttarakhand 2000 Uttarakhand Nainital

Last updated on: 29/10/2019

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