There are 24 High Courts at the state and union territory level of India, which together with the Supreme Court of India at the national level, comprise the country’s judicial system. Each High Court has jurisdiction over a state, a union territory or a group of states and union territories. 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 each state and union territory. However, a High Court exercises its original civil and criminal jurisdiction only if the subordinate courts are 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.
However, the work of most High Courts primarily consists of appeals from lower courts and writ petitions in terms of Article 226 of the constitution. Writ jurisdiction is also original jurisdiction of High Court.
Also Read : Supreme Court of India – it’s composition and jurisdiction.
Composition of High Court
- 1. Retirement age is 62 years.
- 2. Qualification: (a) ≥ 10 years of judicial office, or (b) ≥ 10 years of advocate in High Court.
Appointment of High Court Judges
- The Chief Justice of India (CJI) and Chief Justice (CJ) of HC concerned share the authority for the initiation of the process of appointment / transfer of HC judge. The views of collegium take precedence.
- The collegium constitutes CJI + 2 senior most SC judges hailing from HC in question. CJI has a veto. The collegium takes into account the opinion of the CJ of the HC concerned (which would be entitled to greatest weight), views of other judges of HC and SC (who are conversant with the affairs of the HC) as deemed necessary + views of SC judges who had served in the HC concerned.
- If the president doesn’t accept the recommendations he has to give back reasons. If collegium reiterates such a recommendation has to be accepted.
Transfer of High Court Judges
- The collegium consists of CJI + 4 senior most puisne judges of SC. They must obtain views of CJ of the 2 HCs concerned and SC judges who are in a position to provide material information in the matter. Rest all same.
- If CJ of HC is to be transfered, then views of CJs need not be taken.
Original Jurisdiction of High Court
- Criminal cases: CrPC took away all original criminal jurisdiction of HCs.
- Civil cases: Original jurisdiction remains only in cases of high value.
Writ Jurisdiction of High Court:
High Court under Article 226 of Indian Constitution can issue any of the five writs at it’s own discretion if fundamental rights, or any ordinary constitutional rights or legal rights are violated. (it is also original jurisdiction of High Court)
***But Supreme Court in case of Fundamental Rights (only) are violated, mandatorily has to issue writs.
Appellate Jurisdiction of High Court
- First appeal: Appeal from district judge or subordinate judge (in cases of high value).
- Second appeal: Lies only on questions of law and procedure and not on fact.
- An appeal from sessions judge / judicial magistrate / metropolitan magistrate where the sentence is > 7 years or certain specific matters.
Suo Moto (Art 227)
- For any tribunal / court lying within its territory (except military tribunals), HC can take suo moto leave.