Appointment of Judges of High Court

The institution of high court originated in India in 1862 when the high courts were set up at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. In 1866, a fourth high court was established at Allahabad. In the course of time, each province in British India came to have its own high court.

After 1950, a high court existing in a province became the high court for the corresponding state. The Constitution of India provides for a high court for each state, but the Seventh Amendment Act of 1956 authorised the Parliament to establish a common high court for two or more states or for two or more states and a union territory. The territorial jurisdiction of a high court is co-terminus with the territory of a state.

Similarly, the territorial jurisdiction of a common high court is co-terminus with the territories of the concerned states and union territory. At present, there are 24 high courts in the country. Out of them, three are common high courts. Delhi is the only union territory that has a high court of its own (since 1966).

Appointment of Judges : The judges of a high court are appointed by the President. The chief justice is appointed by the President after consultation with the chief justice of India and the governor of the state concerned. For appointment of other judges, the chief justice of the concerned high court is also consulted. In case of a common high court for two or more states, the governors of all the states concerned are consulted by the president.

In the Second Judges case (1993), the Supreme Court ruled that no appointment of a judge of the high court can be made, unless it is in conformity with the opinion of the chief justice of India. In the Third Judges case (1998), the Supreme Court opined that in case of the appointment of high court judges, the chief justice of India should consult a collegium of two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. Thus, the sole opinion of the chief justice of India alone does not constitute the ‘consultation’


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