Indian High Courts Act 1861- Establishment of High Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay
By Indian High Courts Act 1861, the Supreme & Sadar Courts were amalgamated. The ‘Indian High Court Act’ of 1861, vested in Queen of England to issue letters patent to erect and establish High Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.
- The High Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay were established by Indian High Courts Act 1861.
It’s worth note that Indian High Courts Act, 1861 did not by itself create and establish the High Courts in India. The objective of this act was to effect a fusion of the Supreme Courts and the Sadar Adalats in the three Presidencies and this was to be consummated by issuing Letter Patent. The jurisdiction and powers exercised by these courts was to be assumed by the High Courts.
Composition of the High Court’s:
The Indian High Courts Act 1861 had also spelled the composition of the High Court.
- Each High Court was to consist of a Chief Justice and NOT more than 15 regular judges.
- The chief Justice and minimum of one third regular judges had to be barristers and minimum one third regular judges were to be from the “covenanted Civil Service”.
- All Judges were the be in the office on the pleasure of the Crown.
The High Courts had an Original as well as an Appellate Jurisdiction the former derived from the Supreme Court, and the latter from the Sudder Diwani and Sudder Foujdari Adalats, which were merged in the High Court.
Please note the following facts:
- The Charter of High Court of Calcutta was issued on 14th May, 1862 and Madras and Bombay was issued on June 26, 1862.
- So, the Calcutta High Court has the distinction of being the first High Court and one of the three Chartered High Courts to be set up in India, along with the High Courts of Bombay, Madras.
- High Court at Calcutta which was formerly known as High Court of Judicature at Fort William was established on July 1, 1862. Sir Barnes Peacock was its first Chief Justice.
- On 2nd February, 1863, Justice Sumboo Nath Pandit was the first Indian to assume office as a Judge of the Calcutta High Court.
- The Bombay High Court was inaugurated on 14th August ,1862.
- Indian High Court Act 1861 also gave power to set up other High Courts like the High Courts of the Presidency Towns with similar powers.
- Under this power, a High Court was established in 1866 at High Court of Judicature for the North-Western Provinces at Agra on 17 March 1866 by the Indian High Courts Act of 1861 replacing the Sadr Diwani Adalat.
- Sir Walter Morgan, Barrister-at-Law was appointed the first Chief Justice of the High Court of North-Western Provinces. However it was shifted to Allahabad in 1869 and the name was correspondingly changed to the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad from 11 March 1919.