Report No. 79
2.12. Plenitude of jurisdiction and its roots in history.-
The emergence of the various species of jurisdiction of the High Courts is integrally connected with important events in Indian legal history. Thus, the three High Courts in the Presidency towns have succeeded1 to the jurisdiction previously exercised by at least three different courts-the Supreme Court (principally a court of original jurisdiction),2 the Saddar Divani Adalat and the Saddar Nizamat Adalat (which heard appeals from civil and criminal courts respectively).3 Revisional jurisdiction can also be traced to the Saddar Divani Adalat.
This fusion of jurisdiction by the Indian High Courts Act, 1861 is an interesting epoch of Indian legal history. Introducing the Bill, Sir Charles Wood3 made an interesting speech, pointing out that "the administration of justice in the minor courts depends on the mode in which the appeals sent up from them are treated (by the superior courts)".
1. (a) Cowell Courts and Legislative Authorities in India, (1905), pp. 13, 15, 79, 90, 107, 109, 113, 114, 128 and 131; (b) Kamalakar v. Scindia Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., AIR 1961 Born 186 (189).
2. Section 17, Act of Settlement (21 Geo. 2, C. 70).
3. For history of appellate jurisdiction of High Courts, see India Electric Works v. Registrar, Trade Marks, AIR 1947 Cal 49 (52, 61).
4. Hansard, (1861), p. 647; Cowell Courts and Legislative Authorities in India, (1905), pp. 161-162.