History and Premises
‘Bombay High Court, Fort, Mumbai’
The Bombay High Court was inaugurated on 14 August 1862 under the High Courts Act, 1861. Although the name of the city was changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1995, the Court as an institution did not follow suit and remained as the Bombay High Court.
‘Bombay High Court, Fort, Mumbai’
The work on the present building of the High Court was commenced in April 1871 and completed in November 1878. It was designed by British engineer Col. J. A. Fuller. The first sitting in this building was on 10 January 1879. Justice M. C. Chagla was the first Indian permanent Chief Justice of Bombay High Court after independence [1948 – 1958] Architecture: Gothic revival in theEarly English style. It is 562 feet (171 m) long and 187 feet (57 m) wide. To the west of the central tower are two octagonal towers. The statues of Justice and Mercy are atop this building. The 125th anniversary of the building is slated to be marked by the release of a book, commissioned by the Bar Association, called “The Bombay High Court: The Story of the Building – 1878–2003” by local historians Rahul Mehrotra and Sharada Dwivedi.
Bar Council had boycotted some judges of the High Court in 1991 under the leadership of Senior Counsel Iqbal Chagla. In 2011 couple of petitions came to be filed challenging housing societies built by judges upon plots of land reserved for other purposes.
The High Court organized several functions in 2012 to mark completion of 150 years of establishment of the High Court. A special postal cover was released by Shri Milind Deora, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology at the historical Central Court Hall, High Court main building on 14 August 2012.
An exhibition displaying important artifacts, documents and articles of historical importance was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Prithviraj Chavan in the Central Court Hall on 15 August 2012. The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Chief Guest at the concluding ceremony of the year-long Sesquicentennial celebrations on 18 August 2012.
The Chief Justice and the Judges
The court has a Sanctioned strength of 75 judges. The court handles 340,000 cases, both civil and criminal. 32 sitting judges of the court disposed around 2,000 cases each in 2004.Calcutta High Court and was earlier, the Senior Most Judge at the High Court of Gujarat.
The court has a ratio of 1:1.61 million :: judges to people. The Current Chief Justice is Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mohit S. Shah. His Lordship is the Former Chief Justice of
Judges elevated to the Supreme Court of India.
Judges elevated as Chief Justice of High Court .
Judges transferred from the Bombay High Court.
Sitting Judges of the Bombay High Court
Principal Seat & Benches
The court has jurisdiction over the states ofMaharashtra, Goa and the Union territories ofDaman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The court has benches in Nagpur,Aurangabad and Panaji.
Nagpur is an industrial and commercial city situated in the centre of India. Formerly, it was the capital of the former State of CP & Berar, later old Madhya Pradesh and now it is the sub-capital of the State of Maharashtra.A full-fledged High Court was established at Nagpur on 9 January 1936. Later it was included as a separate bench in the Bombay High Court jurisdiction after the formation of the state of Maharashtra in 1960.
Sir Gilbert Stone, a Judge of the Madras High Court was appointed as first Chief Justice. The foundation stone of the new building (present High Court building) was laid by late Sir Hyde Gowan on 9-1-1937. The building was designed by Mr. H.A.N. Medd, Resident Architect. It was constructed at a cost of Rs.737,746/-.The building consisted of two stories with a garden courtyard in the centre. The outside dimensions are 400 ft x 230 ft. The original design provided for a main central dome rising 109 feet above ground land, the remainder of thebuilding being approximately 52 feet in height. The building has been constructed with sandstone. The building has Ashlar stone facing and brick hearting. The flooring in the corridors and offices is of Sikosa and Shahabad flag stones. The building is declared open on 6 January 1940. On the opening ceremony the Viceroy of India described this building as a poem in stone. The High Court has a fairly well planned garden on the eastern as well as western sides.
The High Court of Judicature at Nagpur continued to be housed in this building till the reorganisation of States in 1956. With effect from 1-11-1956, eight Marathi speaking districts of Vidarbha formed part of the greater bi-lingual State of Bombay which came into existence. Remaining fourteen Hindi speaking districts of the former State of Madhya Pradesh became part of the newly constituted State of Madhya Pradesh with the capital at Bhopal. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh was treated as successor of the former High Court at Nagpur.
A Bench of the High Court at Bombay began to sit in this building at Nagpur with effect from 1-11-1956 and continues to do so even after the formation of the State of Maharashtra on 1-5-1960. During year 1960 the strength of this Bench consisted of four Honourable Judges.
The extension of High Court building consists of two annex buildings on both sides of the existing building viz., North and South Wings. For this Government of Maharashtra has sanctioned Rs. 1,2,926,605/- on dated 21 March 1983. ‘South Wing’ houses various utilities for public, i.e. litigants and the Bar as well as High Court Government Pleader’s Establishment including Standing Coursel for Central Government and ‘A Panel Counsels, and also for the establishment. In the North Wing, it is proposed to accommodate additional Court Halls, Chambers of the Hobble Judges, Judges’ Library and the office.
Presently, the strength of this Bench consists of 10 Honourable Judges and total employees are 412.
The Aurangabad bench was established in 1982. Initially only a few districts ofMaharashtra were under the Aurangabad bench. Subsequently in 1988, Ahmednagar & others districts were attached to the bench. The bench at Aurangabad has more than 13 judges. The jurisdiction of the Aurangabad Bench is over Aurangabad, Ahmednagar,Dhule, Jalna, Jalgaon, Beed, Parbhani, Latur &Osmanabad. The bench also has a Bar council of Maharashtra & Goa office. The present building of bench is situated in a very huge premises. The garden is beautifully maintained. Lush green grass invites the attention of any passerby. The HC bench at Aurangabad is just approximately 4 km from the Aurangabad Airport and around 6 km from central bus stand. The new building has 13 court halls in all now including two new. All the court halls are on the first floor of the building, while the registry of the Court is on the ground floor. The Aurangabad bench has a strong Bar of more than 1000 advocates,but Aurangabad bench does not have a jurisdiction for company law matters. The Aurangabad Bench celebrated its 28th anniversary on 27 August 2009.
Due to continued demand of the people ofMarathwada region for the establishment of a permanent Bench of the High Court at Aurangabad under sub-section (2) of Sec. 51 of the Act, the State Government first took up the issue with the then Chief Justice (Kantawala, C.J.) In 1977. On 22 March 1978, the State Legislative Assembly passed a unanimous resolution supporting a demand for the establishment of a permanent Bench of the High Court at Aurangabad to the effect : “With a view to save huge expenses and to reduce the inconvenience of the people of the Marathwada and Pune regions in connection with legal proceedings, this Assembly recommends to the Government to make a request to the President to establish a permanent Bench of the Bombay High Court having jurisdiction in Marathwada and Pune regions, one at Aurangabad and the other at Pune.”
The said demand for the constitution of a permanent Bench of the High Court at Aurangabad was supported by the State Bar Council of Maharashtra, Advocates’ Association of Western India, several bar associations and people in general. It is necessary here to mention that the resolution as originally moved made a demand for the setting up of a permanent Bench of the High Court of Bombay at Aurangabad for the Marathwada region, and there was, no reference to Pune which was added by way of amendment. Initially, the State Government made a recommendation to the Central Government in 1978 for the establishment of two permanent Benches under sub-sec. (2) of Section 51 of the Act, one at Aurangabad and the other at Pune, but later in 1981 confined its recommendation to Aurangabad alone.
The State Government thereafter took a Cabinet decision in Jan., 1981 to establish a permanent Bench of the High Court at Aurangabad and this was conveyed by the Secretary to the Government of Maharashtra, Law & Judiciary Department, communicated by his letter dated 3 Feb. 1981 to the Registrar and he was requested, with the permission of the Chief Justice, to submit proposals regarding accommodation for the Court and residential bungalows for the Judges, staff, furniture etc. necessary for setting up the Bench. As a result of this communication, the Chief Justice wrote to the Chief Minister on 26 Feb. 1981 signifying his consent to the establishment of a permanent Bench at Aurangabad. After adverting to the fact that his predecessors had opposed such a move and had indicated, amongst other things, that such a step involved, as it does, breaking up of the integrity of the institution and the Bar, which would necessarily impair the quality and quantity of the disposals.
It however became evident by the middle of June, 1981 that the Central Government would take time in reaching a decision on the proposal for the establishment of a permanent Bench under sub-sec. (2) of Section 51 of the Act at Aurangabad as the question involved a much larger issue, viz. the principles to be adopted and the criterion laid down for the establishment of permanent Benches of High Courts generally. This meant that there would be inevitable delay in securing concurrence of the Central Government and the issuance of a Presidential Notification under sub-sec. (2) of S. 51 of the Act. On 19 June 1981, the State Government accordingly took a Cabinet decision that pending the establishment of a permanent Bench under sub-sec. (2) of S. 51 of the Act at Aurangabad for the Marathwada region, resort be had to the provisions of sub-section (3) thereof. On 20 June 1981, Secretary to the Government of Maharashtra, Law & Judiciary Department wrote to the Registrar stating that there was a possibility of the delay in securing concurrence of the Central Government and the issuance of a notification by the President under subsection (2) of S. 51 of the Act for the establishment of a permanent Bench at Aurangabad and in order to tide over the difficulty, the provisions of sub-sec. (3) of Section 51 of the Act may be resorted to and he therefore requested the Chief Justice to favour the Government With his views in the matter at an early date. On 5 July 1981, the Law Secretary waited on the Chief Justice in that connection. On 7 July 1981 the Chief justice wrote a letter to the Chief minister in which he stated that the Law Secretary had conveyed to him the decision of the State Government to have a Circuit Bench at Aurangabad under sub-sec. (3) of Section 51 pending the decision of the Central Government to establish a permanent Bench there under sub-section (2) of S. 51 of the Act. The Chief Justice then added : “I agree that some such step is necessary in view of the preparations made by the Government at huge costs and the mounting expectations of the people there.”
On 20 July 1981, the Law Secretary addressed a letter to the Registrar requesting him to forward, with the permission of the Chief Justice, proposal as is required under sub-section (3) of S. 51 for the setting up of a Bench at Aurangabad. In reply to the same, the Registrar by his letter dated 24 July 1981 conveyed that the Chief Justice agreed with the suggestion of the State Government that action had to be taken under sub-section (3) of S. 51 of the Act for which the approval of the Governor was necessary and he enclosed a copy of the draft order which the Chief Justice proposed to issue under sub-section (3) of S. 51 of the Act. On 10 Aug. 1981, the Law Secretary conveyed to the Registrar the approval of the Governor. On 27 Aug. 1981, the Chief Justice issued an order under sub-section (3) of S. 51 of the Act to the effect : “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of S. 51 of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 (No. 37 of 1956) and all other powers enabling him in this behalf, the Hon’ble the Chief Justice, with the approval of the Governor of Maharashtra, is pleased to appoint Aurangabad as a place at which the Hon’ble Judges and Division Courts of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay may also sit.” This is the history how the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court was constituted. The Constitution of the Bench by The Hon’ble The Chief Justice V.S.Deshpande then came to be challenged before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Petition filed by the State of Maharashtra was allowed and the aspirations of the people from Marathwada were recognised. The Judgment is a reported one (State of Maharashtra v. Narain Shyamrao Puranik) in AIR 1983 Supreme Court 46.
When the High Court of Bombay constituted a bench in Goa, Justice G.F Couto was appointed its first Goan permanent judge. Justice G.D. Kamat was appointed as judge in 1983 and later in 1996 as Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court. Justice E.S da Silva was elevated in 1990 and was a judge of this court till his retirement in 1995. Justice F.I Rebello, was appointed Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in 2010 and retired in 2011. Justice R.K. Batta and Justice R.M.S. Khandeparkar were Judges of the Goa bench for brief period. Justice A.P Lavande and Justice F.M.Reis, sitting judges of the Bombay High Court, were senior lawyers who practised in the Goa Bench before their elevation.
Prior to the occupation of Goa, Daman & Diu the highest Court for the then Union territory was the “Tribunal de Relacao” functioning at Panaji. This Tribunal de Relacao was abolished when a Court of Judicial Commissioner was established w.e.f. 16 December 1963 under Goa-Daman & Diu (Judicial Commissioner Court) Regulation, 1963. In May, 1964 an Act was passed by the Parliament which conferred upon the Court of Judicial Commissioner, some powers of the High Court for the purposes of the Constitution of India.
Parliament by an Act extended the jurisdiction of High Court at Bombay to the Union territory of Goa Daman & Diu and established a permanent Bench of that High Court at Panaji on 30.10.1982
From its inception, the Hon’ble Shri Justice Dr. G.F.Couto who was at that time acting Judicial Commissioner was elevated to the Bench of High Court of Bombay. The Hon’ble Shri Justice G.D.Kamat was elevated to the Bench on 29.8.1983.
With the passing of Goa, Daman & Re-organization Act, 1987 by the Parliament conferring Statehood to Goa, the High Court of Bombay became the common High Court for the states of Maharashtra and Goa and the Union territories of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu w.e.f. 30.5.1987.
This High Court was shifted from the old building of “Tribunal de Relacao” to Lyceum Complex at Altinho, Panaji and started functioning there from 3.11.1997. The main renovated building at the said Complex, constructed in the year 1925 by the Portuguese Government, was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Shri M.B.Shah on 2.10.1997. The total amount incurred for renovation of this building alone is Rs. 1,7,264,393/-. The Hon’ble the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, Shri Y.K.Sabharwal, inaugurated the 2nd building on 9 September 1999. Both these buildings now house several departments of the High Court.at
The Case Status and Causelists of Bombay High Court is available on its official website at www.bombayhighcourt.nic.in. The Orders and Judgments from year 2005 are also available on the website.
As of March 2012 the High Court has 315,988civil cases and 45,960 criminal casespending. At the same time, the District and subordinate courts under the Bombay High Court have a total of 3,179,475 pending cases.