Saturday, March 19, 2016

Allahabad High Court Is Born

This is second post of the series 'LegalTrek'. The last post was about, why I became a lawyer and this post is about how the Allahabad High Court  was established.

How I Became A Lawyer।। Allahabad High Court Is Born।। Lucknow Bench - Allahabad High Court।।


Sesquicentenary - Allahabad High Court
The Allahabad High Court is the biggest higher court in the World. It has sanctioned strength of 160 judges. It is the Fourth oldest and the last chartered High Court created under the Indian High Court Act 1861. This Act was later repealed by the Government of India Act, 1915.

This year, is the sesquicentenary year for the Court and centenary year for its building. To commemorate the occasion, the Court has planned a year long activities. 

The function started on March 13, 2016, in presence of the President of India, Governor of UP, Chief Justice of India, Chief Minister of UP, and Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, Union of India. Among the other activities, the High Court has planned a festival cricket match among the judges of the High Courts in October 2016, a golf tournament, and a series of lectures. Here is the story of how this great court was established. 

Court Is Born
In the nineteenth century, a dual judicial system was prevalent in our country: the royal courts, namely the Supreme Courts, in the three presidency towns namely, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras and the Company courts, the Sadar Adalats.  

There were two parallel judicial systems at that time. They exercised independent but often-concurrent jurisdiction; jealously viewing the exercise of power by each other. And what else could they produce—infighting and confusion was the result. There was a debate to consolidate them.  

After the first war of independence in 1857, the East India Company was dissolved and the British Crown took over.  The need to consolidate them became imperative.

The Indian High Courts Act, 1861, paved the way for abolition of the dual system, replacement of the Supreme Courts of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay by establishing the High Courts in their place, and establishment of High Court in any other part by Letters Patent. 

The Calcutta High Court was the first to be established; the Bombay and Madras High Courts followed the way. They were the fusion of the Supreme Courts and the Sadar Adalats and inherited their jurisdiction subject to pecuniary limits, they still have original jurisdiction in all matters.

The Delhi High Court was established after India became independent. It also has original jurisdiction in all matters like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras: may be, to be at parity with the three metropolitan towns. Only these four High Courts have original jurisdiction in all matters. The rest of the High Courts have original jurisdiction in some matters only.

The British had acquired areas that came to be as North-Western Provinces. They were governed by the Sadar Diwani and Nizamat Adalats of the Bengal presidency at Calcutta.  Subsequently, it was thought proper to judicially administer them separately and this was done by the Bengal Regulation of 1831. The Regulation provided that they were to be ordinarily stationed at Allahabad but were started at Agra on January 1, 1832. After creation of the three High Courts, the Sadder Dewani and Nizamat Adalats for the North-Western Provinces were the only Adalats that still remained.

On the June 24, 1864, the secretary of the state for India asked the Governor-General in council to send his opinion regarding establishing a High Court in the North-Western Provinces, who agreed with the same. Subsequently, the Letters Patent establishing the High Court for the North-Western provinces was issued on  March 17, 1866 and was published in the Gazette of India on the June 13, 1886. It was on this day that the Court of Sadder Dewani and Nizamat Adalat ceased to exist and the High Court for North-Western provinces, came into existence. 

The Sadar Adalat was still at Agra, so the High Court was also started there. Thereafter, a Bench of the High Court started sitting at Allahabad in 1868.  Then, the full court started sitting at Allahabad from 1869. Its name still continued to be  the High Court for North-Western provinces. It was changed to High Court of Judicature at Allahabad by supplementary Letters Patent on March 11, 1919.

Old Building
There is some confusion where exactly the High Court started at Allahabad. Justice SN Katju was the secretary, Planning committee for the Centenary Celebrations. In the centenary volume-1, he wrote an article entitled 'Planning of the Centenary celebrations'. In the article, he observes,
'The transfer from Agra to Allahabad appears to have occurred in the stages. Furthermore, we do not know the exact place, where the High Court sat, when it shifted to Allahabad. It was later that the old High Court building was constructed on the Queen's Road [Sarojini Naidu Marg], where the court sat till it shifted to its present building on November 27, 1916.'
Sri Swami Dayal also wrote an article in the same volume entitled 'Origin and Growth of the High Court'. In this it is mentioned that the High Court was, where at present the Board of Revenue is on the Sarojini Naidu Marg. This is also impression of some persons of the older generation. However, in the same volume there is an article by Sir Archibald Henry Braund entitled 'History of the High Court at Allahabad during the Chief Justiceship of Sir Walter Morgan' that suggests to the contrary.

Sir Braund was a Judge of the Allahabad High Court from 1940 to 1946. In the article he writes,
'But [the construction of] the building of the new High Court and of the new government offices, which are those excellent red rectangular two storied buildings still to be seen on Queens Road [now Sarojini Naidu Marg], was proceeding. The four blocks were designed by Colonel Peile, of the Public Works Department, the two on the west of Queens Road  as the Government Secretariat and the Accountant General's office respectively, and those on the east as the High Court and the Board of Revenue.'
This article suggests that the High Court building was, where at present the Police Headquarters is. The articles by Sir Braund is also printed in the Post Centenary Silver Jubilee Celebration Volume-1 under the title 'The Court is Launched'.

The Government Secretariat on the west of the road shifted to Lucknow and the building at present is occupied by Education Department. The two buildings on the east of the road were identical. It seems odd that the Board of Revenue was in the building, where the Police Headquarters was and then shifted to the adjoining building vacated by the High Court. The natural course seems to be that the Board of Revenue continued at the same place and the Police Headquarters occupied the building vacated by the High Court.

On inquiry, the Police Headquarters confirmed that the High court was indeed at a place, where the Police Headquarters is at present. They informed that initially, the Police Headquarters was at the place where at present the General Post Office is and shifted to the present building in 1916 after it was vacated by the High Court. This is also so recorded in their archives. According to them, there was a tablet mentioning this fact in the Police Headquarters building but it has been broken.

Thus, it is clear that the Allahabad High Court started towards east of Sarojini Naidu Marg, where at present the Police Headquarters is. It shifted to the present building in 1916, when the building was completed
New Building
Sir John Stanley, the then Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court laid the foundation stone of the present building on March 18, 1911. It was completed in the year 1916. Lord Chelsmford, Viceroy and Governor General of India inaugurate the same on November 16, 1961 during Chief Justiceship of Henry Richards.

Since then, two more wings have been added to it. One is broadly consisting of present court of Chief Justice, chamber and the adjoining library, It was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad on February 21, 1954, when Justice BB Mallik was the Chief Justice. The other one is on the western side of the court, where at presents criminal courts sit. Another wing, even  further west of the present building, is under construction.

At present, there is a Bench of the Allahabad High Court at Lucknow. In the next post, we will talk about the same. 

Allahabad High Court

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