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Focus: GS-II Governance

History of High court necessity in Puducherry

  • In 1962, when Puducherry was merged with India, the jurisdiction of the Madras High Court was extended to it.
  • After several decades, in 2017, the Puducherry legislature unanimously resolved to have its own High Court.

Reasons to have a High Court for Puducherry

  • The Puducherry government spends exorbitant sums of money towards expenses of the large High Court.
  • With not much of a population, this amount can be reduced to less than a quarter of the amount spent with a much smaller High Court for Puducherry.
  • In fact, according to the Constitution, when a common High Court is established for more than one State, administrative expenses have to be paid only from the consolidated fund of the ‘State’ in which the principal seat of the High Court is situated (this provision is breached with respect to Puducherry).
  • On the other hand, administrative expenses of a High Court at the Union Territory shall be drawn from the ‘Consolidated fund of India’ under the Constitution.
  • A Puducherry High Court, with four to five judges, can ensure quick action on pendency of matters of the High Court matters, at least at Puducherry.
  • The number of cases filed and disposed of at Puducherry in 2010 is four times higher than the numbers at Sikkim, Manipur and Goa (with High Courts) put together.
  • Even the exercise of safeguarding fundamental rights involves travel, time and expenses, as litigants from western districts travel the long distance to Chennai.
  • A High Court for Puducherry will also strengthen voices seeking Statehood.

Increasing ratio of judges strength to population

  • In the All India Judges Association And Others vs Union Of India (Uoi) And Ors., the Supreme Court observed that the “time has now come for protecting one of the pillars of the Constitution, namely, the judicial system, by directing increase, in the first instance, in the Judge strength from the existing ratio of 10.5 or 13 per 10 lakhs people to 50 Judges for 10 lakh people”.
  • However, as of 2016, the ratio is only 12 judges for one million population.

Article 241 of Indian Constitution

High courts for union territories:

(1) Parliament may by law constitute a High Court for a Union territory or declare any court in any such territory to be a High Court for all or any of the purposes of this Constitution.

The Parliament also has the power to extend or exclude the jurisdiction of a High Court for a State to, or from, any Union territory or part thereof.

High Court

  • The high courts of India 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.
  • The work of most high courts primarily consists of appeals from lower courts and writ petitions in terms of Article 226 of the constitution.
  • According to the Indian Constitution, Articles 214-231 deals with the provisions of High Courts in India.
  • It provides for separate high courts for separate states but according to 7th constitutional amendment act the same high court can be the court for more than one state.

Click Here to read more about the Hierarchy of Indian Judiciary

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023