The State High Courts-India


The High Courts are the highest courts at State level, but being part of integrated Indian judiciary they work under the superintendence, direction and control of the Supreme Court.

The Indian High Courts Act of 1861 was an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to authorize the Crown to create High Courts in the Indian colony.

Queen Victoria created the High Courts in Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay in 1862.

 

Composition—

There is a High Court for each State. However, there can be a common High Court for two or more States (7th Amendment Act 1956).

For example, the States of Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh have a common High Court situated at Chandigarh.

Similarly, the High Court of Guwahati is common for seven northeastern States of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.

Delhi, though not a State, has its own separate High Court (since 1966).

At present, there are 24 high courts in the country.

Every High Court has a Chief Justice and a number of judges.

The number of judges varies from State to State.

The number of judges of each High Court is determined by the President.

The judges of the High Courts are appointed by the President of India.

While appointing Chief Justice of a High Court, the President has to consult the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Governor of the State concerned.

While appointing other judges, the President consults the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of the High Court and Governor of the State concerned.

The judges can be transferred from one High Court to another by the President.

As mentioned earlier, consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in respect of appointments and transfers of the judges of the High Court is also obligatory and binding for the President.

While the constitutional status of the President remains intact, the actual selection of judges is made by a team of senior judges of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India in accordance with 1993 ruling as reinterpreted in 1999 by the Supreme Court.

This is known as Collegium of the Supreme Court.

Its recommendations are binding on the President.

 

Qualifications, Tenure and Removal of the Judges—

In order to be appointed as a judge of a High Court, the person concerned should possess following qualifications:

(1) He or she should be a citizen of India.

(2) He or she should have held a judicial office, at the district level or below for at least ten years. Or

He or she should have been an advocate in one or more High Courts for at least ten years continuously without break.

Once appointed, the High Court judges hold office till they attain the age of 62 years.

After retirement, they may be appointed judges of the Supreme Court or they may practice as advocates either in the Supreme Court or in any High Court other than the High Court in which they served as judges.

A High Court judge may be removed before he or she attains the age of 62 years, only on the ground of incapacity or proved misbehaviour.

He or she may be removed if both the Houses of Parliament adopt a resolution by a majority of their total membership and by two thirds majority of members present and voting, separately in each House in the same session.

Such a resolution is submitted to the President, who then can remove the concerned judge.

This procedure is same as for removal of judges of the Supreme Court.

The President can transfer a judge from one high court to another after consulting the Chief Justice of India. On transfer, he is entitled to receive in addition to his salary such compensatory allowance as may be determined by Parliament.

The President can appoint a judge of a high court as an acting chief justice of the high court when:

[1] the office of chief justice of the high court is vacant; or

[2] the chief justice of the high court is temporarily absent; or

[3] the chief justice of the high court is unable to perform the duties of his office.

The President can appoint duly qualified persons as additional judges of a high court for a temporary period not exceeding two years.