Competitive Exams: High Court

  • The High Courts stands at the head of the judiciary in a State.

  • There shall be a High Court for each State (Article 214).

  • The Judiciary in the States consists of a High Court and the Subordinate Courts.

  • The Parliament can, however, establish by law, a common High Court for one or more State (s) and one or more Union Territory (Article 231).

  • Every High Court shall be a Court of record (Article 215)

Appointment of the Judges

Every High Court consists of a Chief Justice and such other Judges as appointed by the President from time to time (Article 216). The Constitution, unlike in the case of the Supreme Court, does not fix any maximum number of Judges for a High Court. Apart from appointing the Judges of the High Courts, the President has the power to appoint:

  1. Additional Judges for a temporary period, not exceeding two years, for the clearance of arrears of work in a High Court.

  2. An acting Judge, when a permanent Judge of a High Court (other than a Chief Justice) is temporarily absent or unable to perform his duties or is appointed to act temporarily as the Chief Justice.

  3. An acting Judge holds office until the permanent Judge resumes his office. Neither an additional nor an acting Judge can hold office beyond the age of 62 years (now 64 years).

  4. While appointing a Judge of a High Court, the President is to consult the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State and the Chief Justice of that High Court in the matter of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice.

Qualifications for Appointment as a Judge of a High Court

The qualifications required under the Constitution for a person to be appointed as a Judge of a High Court:

  1. must be a citizen of India

  2. must have held a judicial office in the territory of India for at least ten years; or

  3. must have been an advocate of a High Court or two or more such Courts in succession for atleast ten years.

Provision for Independence of the Judges of the High Court

The Constitution seeks to secure the independence of Judges of the High Courts in the following ways:

  • A Judge of a High Court can only be removed by the President on an address of each House of the Parliament, passed by not less than two-third of the members present and voting and by a majority of that House only on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

  • After retirement, a Judge of a High Court cannot serve in any Court or before any authority in India except in the Supreme Court and a High Court other than the High Court in which he had held the office.

  • Their salaries and allowances cannot be changed to their disadvantage after their appointment except during a Financial Emergency.

  • Their salaries and allowances are charged on the Consolidated Fund of State and are not subject to vote in the State Legislature.

  • The conduct of the Judges of the High Courts cannot be discussed in the Parliament, except on a resolution for the removal of the Judges.

Transfer of a Judge from one High Court to another

  • A Judge of a High Court can be transferred without his consent by the President (Article 222).

  • Consultation with the Chief Justice of India must be full and effective.

  • All relevant facts relating to the transfer of a Judge of a High Court must be provided to the Chief Justice of India.

  • The opinion provided by the Chief Justice shall have primacy and is binding on the President.

Jurisdiction of the High Court

Original Jurisdiction

  • In their judicial capacity, the High Courts of \ Presidency towns (Bombay, Calcutta and Madras) have both original and appellate jurisdictions, while other High Courts have mostly appellate jurisdiction.

  • Only in matters of admiralty, probate matrimonial and contempt of Court, they have original jurisdiction.

  • The Presidency High Courts have original jurisdiction in which the amount involved is more than Rs. 2, 000 and in criminal cases which are committed to them by the Presidency Magistrates.

Appellate Jurisdiction

  • As Courts of appeal, all High Courts entertain appeals in civil and criminal cases from their subordinate Courts as well as on their own.

  • They have, however, no jurisdiction over tribunals established under the laws relating to the Armed Forces of the Country.

Writ Jurisdiction

  • Under Article 226 of the Constitution, the High Courts are given powers of issuing writs not only for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights, but also for other purposes.

  • In exercise of this power, a Court may issue the same type of writs, orders or directions which the Supreme Court is empowered to issue under Article 32.

  • The jurisdiction to issue writs under this Article is larger in the case of High Courts, for which the Supreme Court can issue them only where a Fundamental Right has been infringed, a High Court can issue them not only in such cases, but also where an ordinary legal right has been infringed.

Administrative functions of the High Courts

  • The High Courts control and supervise the working of the Courts subordinate to them and frame rules and regulations for the transaction of their business.

  • Under Article 227, every High Court has the power of superintendence over all the Courts and tribunals except those dealing with the Armed Forces functioning within its territorial jurisdiction.

  • In exercise of this power, the High Court may: Call for returns from such Courts; make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such courts; prescribe forms in which books and accounts shall be kept by the offices of any such Courts, and transfer cases from one Court to another.

  • Under Article 235, the High Courts exercise control over the District Courts and the subordinate Courts in matters of posting, promotion etc.

  • According to Article 229 of the Constitution, every High Court has been ensured a complete control over the members of its staff.

  • The Chief Justice of the High Court is empowered to appoint officers and servants of the Court.