the partition of India, the Constitution of India was framed. However, before
the partition, there was the Government of India Act, 1915. By virtue of the
powers conferred by Section 113 of the Government of India Act, 1915, the Crown
by Letters Patent dated March 20, 1919 had established at Lahore, the High Court
of judicature for the provinces of Punjab and Delhi to be called 'the High Court
of judicature at Lahore'. The High Court of judicature at Lahore was a court
Lahore High Court
On the establishment of the Lahore High Court, the Chief Court of Punjab, which
was functioning for the last 53 years, was abolished. The High Court at Lahore
by virtue of Letters Patent and Section 106 and 113 of the Government of India
Act, 1915 was vested with all the appellate and
powers, authority and jurisdiction of the Chief Court. The Lahore High Court
by its Letters Patent was also vested with original jurisdiction in certain
special matters as were possessed by the Chief Court. These special matters
included disciplinary action against Advocates (Clause 8); Guardianship (Clause
12); testamentary and intestate (Clause 24)and matrimonial matters (Clause 22).
The High Court had no ordinary original civil jurisdiction. However, it had
ordinary original criminal jurisdiction to a limited extent. The original criminal
jurisdiction of the Lahore High court was co-extensive with that of the chief
court of Punjab which had no original criminal jurisdiction to try any person,
except European British subjects. As per Clause 9 of the Letters Patent, it
was empowered to remove, try and determine any civil case from courts subordinate
to it. In exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, the Lahore High Court was
authorized to hear appeals from the decisions of all the criminal and other
courts of the provinces of Punjab, Delhi and all other Courts subject to its
superintendence. It could hear appeals in Benches of two or more Judges of its
own Court sitting on the civil side.
was also declared to be Court of reference and revision from the criminal courts
subject to its appellate jurisdiction. It had the powerto transfer any criminal
case or appeal from any court to any other court of equal or superior jurisdiction.
It had no power to issue writs except to the extent as it was empowered to issue
orders in the nature of habeas corpus under Section 491 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure along with other High Courts.
After independence of
India, the old province of Punjab was divided into West Punjab (Pakistan)
and East Punjab (India). The High Court at Lahore being in Pakistan, ceased
to have jurisdiction over Delhi and East Punjab. The question of location
of the new High Court for these provinces arose. Shimla was selected as the
seat of the new High Court.
The East Punjab
High Court of judicature was established at Shimla on August 15, 1947 by the
Governor General's High Court (Punjab) Order 1947 issued under Section 9 of
the Indian Independence Act, 1947. In exercise of the powers conferred by
Section 229 (1) of the Government of India Act, 1935, the High Court of East
Punjab was also made a court of record and as provided by Clause 5 of the
said order, it had in respect of the provinces of Punjab and Delhi, all such
original, appellate and other jurisdictions as under the law in force immediately
before the August 15, 1947, was exercisable in respect of those territories
by the High Court at Lahore. The East Punjab High Court was the successor
and continuation of the High Court at Lahore. The decisions of Lahore High
Court were binding on the Punjab High Court on the principle of stare decisis.
The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950. The State of
East Punjab came to be known as the Punjab now. Accordingly, the name of the
High Court was also changed. As per Article 214(2) of the Constitution of
India, the High Court was to be continued along with other High Courts. The
Constitution of India also conferred on the Punjab High Court, along with
all other High Courts, the power to issue directions, orders including writs
in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo-warranto and certiorari
in the enforcement of fundamental rights or for any other purpose. The East
Punjab High Court did not have the power to issue writs. However, the seat
of the High Court continued to remain at Shimla.
High Court shifted
On account of its inclement weather in winter, it was very
inconvenient for the litigants to go to Shimla. Accordingly, the seat of the
High Court was shifted to Chandigarh. The Court started functioning at Chandigarh
from its present building with effect from January 17, 1955.
However, it was formally
declared open by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru,
on March 19, 1955. The plan of the building of the High Court was designed
by the world famous French Architect, 'Le Corbusier' under the exuberant guidance
of Hon'ble the then Chief Justice, Mr. Justice A.N. Bhandari.