The Jurisdiction and Powers of the High Courts of India – Explained!

The Constitution thus maintains the status quo existing on the eve of the commencement of the Constitution in relation to the jurisdiction and powers of the High Courts. The status quo is, however, subject to the provisions of the Constitution and to any law made by the appropriate legislature in pursuance of its powers under the Constitution.

The proviso to Article 225 lays down that any restriction on the original jurisdiction of a High Court regarding a revenue matter, or an act ordered or done in revenue collection, existing prior to the commencement of the Constitution, will no longer exist.

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The second important change affected by the Constitution in the jurisdiction of High Courts is the enactment of Article 226 which empowers the High Courts to issue the writs. This is an important power to enforce the rights of the people, to administer justice and to review administrative action.

According to Article 226 (1) of the Constitution, it may be issued to any person, authority Including In appropriate cases, any Government within those territories, directions, orders or writs like habeas corpus mandamus.

Certiorari, Quo-Warranto, prohibition or any of them for the enforcement of fundamental rights conferred on the people in Part III of the Constitution and for any other purpose.

It may be pointed out that remedy under Article 226 is discretionary and the Court may refuse to grant the remedy under Article 226, if adequate remedy is available to the petitioner. But in Himmat Lal vs. State of U.P., AIR 1954 S.C. 403, however, the Supreme Court has held that the existence of an alternate remedy Is no bar to the exercise of writ jurisdiction where there is violation of fundamental rights.

Power of Superintendence:

According to Article 227, every High Court shall have superintendence over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories of India in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction, except any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed forces.

The power of superintendence under Article 227 Is of an administrative as well as judicial nature. This power being an extraordinary one is to be sparingly exercised and in appropriate cases to keep the subordinate courts within the bounds of their authority and jurisdiction and not for correcting mere errors.

Control over Subordinate Courts

Article 235 vests in High Court the control over the subordinate courts. While Article 227 deals with the official acts of the persons occupying those courts, Article 235 deals with subordinate judicial officers themselves In relation to their discipline, posting and promotions.

Further, Article 227 deals with both the courts and tribunals but Article 235 deals with the controlling power of the High Court only with the courts not with tribunals.

Court of Record

According to Article 215, every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have power to punish for its contempt by itself.

General jurisdiction under other statutes

High Courts have original and appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters as conferred by other statutes and their letter patents. Such powers have been safeguarded by Article 225 of the Constitution in favor of the High Courts.

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