(Last Updated on : 04/05/2013)
High Courts of India are at the top of the hierarchy in each State but are below the Supreme Court. These courts have control over a state, a union territory or a group of states and union territories. Below the High Courts are secondary courts such as the civil courts, family courts, criminal courts and various other district courts. High Courts are established under Part VI, Chapter V. The High Courts are the principal courts of original jurisdiction in the state, and can try all offences including those punishable with death.
We see that, article 214 of the Constitution of India states that there shall be a High Court for each of the states. In addition to that, Article 231 of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to set up one High Court for two or more states. For example, Gauhati High Court has jurisdiction over the State of Tripura
and some other states of North- East India besides its jurisdiction over the State of Assam. However, works of most High Courts consists of Appeals from lowers courts and summons, petitions in terms of Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The precise jurisdiction of each High Court varies from each other.
A High Court is composed of a Chief Justice and as many other judges as the President of India may from time to time deem it necessary to appoint. The President can appoint additional judges also for a maximum period of two years. The number of judges in a Court is decided by the dividing the average institution of main cases during the last five years by the national average. The average rate of disposal of main cases per judge per year in that High Court is also taken into consideration. Ordinarily, the judges remain in office till the age of 62. In appointing the chief Justice of High Court, the President consults the governor and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In appointing other Judges the President consults the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of the High Courts of India.
Though the judges of the High Courts of India can remain in office till the age of sixty two, the judges may resign from their posts prematurely by applying in writing to the President. Besides, the judges of a High Court can be removed from office on various grounds like misdemeanour and corruption. The judges of the High Court may be transferred to another High Court of another state or Supreme Court. The judges of the High Court must be an Indian citizen and must have ten years of experience in adjudication or in legal practice. To ensure independence of judiciary, a special mode of removal of the judge has been prescribed in the Constitution of India. The proposal of removal of the judges must be passed by a two thirds majority of the members present in the Legislature. The proposal then shall have to be sent to the President for his assent. The President will then ask the judge to resign.
The High Courts of India act as the Court of Original Jurisdiction and the Court of Appellate Jurisdiction at the same time. As a Court of original Jurisdiction the High Court can try original cases. The Constitution has vested the High Court with Power of trying revenue cases also. The High Court in every state is the highest court of appeal in respect t of any criminal or civil cases of the State. The High Court may either give its verdict on constitutional point only and leave it to the lower court concerned to pass verdict on the other issues or try the cases as a whole.
The Union Parliament has been empowered to either enlarge or restrict the jurisdiction of the High Court. The High Courts of India have the power of superintendence over all the lower Courts of a State except the Military Tribunals. The High Court can also issue various writs in order to safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens of India. The writs are in the nature of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Quo Warranto and Certiorari. Apart from all these, the High Court has the authority of making laws regarding the appointment of its own officials and other internal affairs. As the head of the judiciary in the state, the High Court has got administrative control over the subordinate in the state. The High Court is a Court of Record. This means that all records that regarding all cases that come to the High Court are kept with the extreme care possible and these records are later referred to in dealing with other cases. The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 curtailed the jurisdiction of the High Courts in various spheres. However, the 44th Amendment Act of 1979 restored the original jurisdiction and position of the High Courts.