High Court UPSC: Appointment of Judges, Jurisdiction, First High Court in India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

High Courts in India are the topmost judicial body in every state. High Courts serve as lower courts in India’s judicial hierarchy than the Supreme Court. A High Court and a system of lower courts make up the state’s judicial system. According to the Indian Constitution, each state has a High Court, but the Parliament has the power to establish a common high court in two or more states. A high court’s territorial jurisdiction is co-terminus with a state’s territory.

The first high court in India is Calcutta High Court, which was established on 2 July 1862. The jurisdiction of this high court is under Andaman and Nicobar Islands, West Bengal, and comprises a total of 72 judges. This article shall cover all necessary details, a list of High Courts in India, their functions, their jurisdiction, the total number of judges in high court, their constitutional conception, etc.

What is High Court?

The highest appellate court in Indian States and Union Territories is the High Court. A state’s top court is known as the High Court. The High Court is composed of the Chief Justice and any additional justices that the President may deem appropriate from time to time, as stated in Article 216 of the Indian Constitution. In this way, unlike the Supreme Court, the number of judges on a High Court can vary and be decided by the President on a case-by-case basis while taking the volume of work before a High Court into consideration.

High Court UPSC Notes

Every state in India is required to have a High Court, as stipulated in Article 214. A joint High Court, however, may exist for two or more States or two or more States and a union territory, as per Article 231. In India, there are 25 High Courts, six of which have jurisdiction over several States or UTs. Among the Union Territories, Delhi has its own High Court. The High Courts are recognized as the nation’s second-highest court and are positioned behind the Supreme Court of India.

First High Court in India

A High Court and a system of subordinate courts make up the State Judiciary. An integral cog in the country’s judicial system, let’s trace its inception. On the recommendation of the Law Commission, the Indian High Courts Act 1861, which proposed the formation of High Courts in the three Presidency cities of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay in place of the Supreme Court, was adopted in 1858. Over time, further High Courts were created.

The High Court of Calcutta approved a charter in May 1862, and the High Courts of Bombay and Madras followed suit in June 1862. As an outcome, the Calcutta High Court was established as the first High Court in the nation.

  • The Constitution establishes the High Courts’ organizational framework and legal foundation.
  • There are 25 High Courts currently for 28 States and 8 Union Territories.
  • The Andhra Pradesh High Court is a recent addition to the region. It becomes operational on January 1st, 2019.

Appointment of High Court Judges

A procedure is followed for the Appointment of High Court judgesThe President appoints the Judges of a High Court. However, before assigning judges to High Courts other than the Chief Justice, the President must contact the Chief Justice of India, the State Governor, and the High Court Chief Justice.

According to Article 222, the President may transfer High Court judges after consulting with the Chief Justice of India.

High Court Judges: Tenure, Removal and Salary

There has been tremendous growth in the salary paid to a High Court judge. Apart from the salary, there are several other bonuses and allowances provided to a Judge in High Court. Below is a brief information about the tenure, the process of removal, and the salary of a High Court judge:


  • A High Court judge appointed permanently holds office until age 62.
  • After consulting with the Chief Justice of India, the President decides on any disagreements regarding the age of judges; the President’s judgment is final.


  • On the suggestion of the Parliament, the President may order the removal of a judge from his position.
  • Only misbehavior and incapacity are grounds for removal for High Court Judge(s).
  • The order is approved after each House of Parliament gives a speech supported by a majority of the entire House and a majority of two-thirds of the total number of members from each House present at the time and voting.

Salary and Emoluments for High Court Judge

  • According to Article 221, a High Court judge is eligible for pension and leave-of-absence benefits that Parliament may periodically decide upon.
  • However, this cannot be altered to the Judge’s detriment once appointed.

Jurisdiction of High Courts

The High Court is the superior judicial body in a state. A High Court, however, only exercises its original criminal and civil jurisdiction if the lower courts are not permitted by statute to hear such cases due to a lack of pecuniary or territorial jurisdiction. High Courts may also have original jurisdiction over a specific case if the constitution, state legislation, or federal law expressly grants them that authority.

Most High Courts’ activity comprised primarily of writ petitions filed following Articles 226 and 227 of the Indian constitution and appeals from subordinate courts. A High Court’s original jurisdiction includes writ jurisdiction as well.

Territorial Jurisdiction

A state’s territorial limits coincide with a High Court’s jurisdiction. The High Court’s authority does, however, extend to those areas if the Parliament creates a High Court for two or more States or expands its jurisdiction to Union Areas.

The Constitution does not fully define the High Court’s authority, jurisdiction, or other administrative functions.

Original Jurisdiction

The other High Courts primarily have appellate authority. However, the High Courts of the Presidency Towns have original and appellate jurisdiction. Only cases involving admiralty, probate, matrimonial law, and contempt of court fall under the original jurisdiction of the other High Court. The Presidency High Courts used to have initial jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases.

All High Courts lost their initial criminal jurisdiction due to the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973. Only civil cases with a value above a certain threshold fall under the original jurisdiction.

Appellate Jurisdiction of High Court

All High Courts consider appeals in civil and criminal cases from their subordinate tribunals and their original side as they function as appellate courts. Several High Courts permit intra-court appeals. From a single judge’s ruling, an appeal may be made to a division bench of the same High Court.

On the other hand, tribunals established in accordance with the law governing the nation’s military services are outside the purview of the High Courts.

Writ Jurisdiction of High Court

According to Article 226 of the Constitution, the High Courts have the authority to issue directives, orders, or writs to enforce and protect Fundamental Rights and any other reason.

Functions of the High Court

Being one of the most important judicial bodies in the country, the High Court has numerous functions that account for the smoother administration of justice to the masses. The most crucial functions of the High Court have been explained further:

Administrative and Supervisory Functions

Every High Court is guaranteed complete control over the employees under Article 229 of the Constitution. In accordance with this Article, the Chief Justice of a High Court has the power to designate Court employees.

  • Additionally, he can control employee working conditions and dismiss any employee employed by the Court.
  • The highest court in a state’s legal system is the High Court. According to Article 227, a High Court can supervise and direct the lower courts in all legal and administrative affairs.

Court of Record for Subordinate Courts

The lower courts must abide by the High Court’s decision. All upcoming cases will be related to their methods and judgments. It can punish anyone who disobeys it or one of its lower courts. It can also search the files of its inferior courts.


Every High Court has the authority to oversee all courts and tribunals functioning within its territorial jurisdiction, except those dealing with the Armed Forces.

The High Court establishes guidelines and standards for how these courts must do their business and oversee and manage their operations.

The High Court’s Power

  • Demand the restoration of the judgments from lower courts;
  • Enact and publish general rules controlling the conduct of such courts’ proceedings and defining forms;
  • Cases are transferred from one court to another and prescribe the formats in which the officers of any such courts need to maintain their records and accounts.
  • Under Article 235, the High Court may also establish guidelines for the appointment, promotion, and absence of lower court personnel.
  • Judicial Review Authority: The High Court has the authority to examine the constitutionality of legislative and executive orders issued by the federal and state governments. Our constitution does not include the term “judicial review,” but Article 13 and Article 226 explicitly provide the High Court with this authority.

Establishment of High Court in India

In 1858, the Parliament passed the Indian High Courts Act 1861 on the suggestion of the Law Commission, which urged the formation of High Courts in place of the Supreme Court in three Presidencies: Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. Presently, the number of High Courts in India is 25. Have a look at the table below which describes the list of high courts in India, their territorial jurisdiction, and the bench.

Establishment of High Court in India
Year Name of High Court Territorial Jurisdiction Seat & Bench
1862 Bombay Maharashtra

Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman Diu


Seat: Mumbai

Bench: Panaji, Aurangabad, and Nagpur

1862 Kolkata West Bengal

Andaman & Nicobar islands

Seat: Kolkata

Bench: Port Blair

1862 Madras Tamil Nadu


Seat: Chennai

Bench: Madurai

1866 Allahabad Uttar Pradesh Seat: Allahabad

Bench: Lucknow

1884 Karnataka Karnataka Seat: Bengaluru

Bench: Dharwad and Gulbarga

1916 Patna Bihar Patna
1948 Guwahati Assam



Arunachal Pradesh

Seat: Guwahati

Bench: Kohima, Aizawl, and Itanagar

1949 Odisha Odisha Cuttack
1949 Rajasthan Rajasthan Seat: Jodhpur

Bench: Jaipur

1956 Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh Seat: Jabalpur

Bench: Gwalior and Indore

1958 Kerala Kerala & Lakshadweep Ernakulam
1960 Gujarat Gujarat Ahmedabad
1966 Delhi Delhi Delhi
1971 Himachal Pradesh Himachal Pradesh Shimla
1975 Punjab & Haryana Punjab, Haryana & Chandigarh Chandigarh
1975 Sikkim Sikkim Gangtok
2000 Chattisgarh Chattisgarh Bilaspur
2000 Uttarakhand Uttarakhand Nainital
2000 Jharkhand Jharkhand Ranchi
2013 Tripura Tripura Agartala
2013 Manipur Manipur Imphal
2013 Meghalaya Meghalaya Shillong
2019 Telangana Telangana Hyderabad
2019 Andhra Pradesh Andhra Pradesh Amravati
2019 Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh

(Note: Jammu & Kashmir High Court was established in 1928. After the bifurcation of J&K into two union territories, there is now a common High Court.)

Jammu and Kashmir


Difference between Writ Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts

The writ jurisdiction is a common ground between the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts. Below is a table that concisely differentiates between the two:

Supreme Court High Court
Only in cases when a basic right has been breached the Supreme Court can issue writs High Courts have the authority to issue writs for the enforcement of both basic rights and common citizens’ rights. As a result, the High Court has wider jurisdiction than the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is mandated to issue writs under Article 32 The High Courts have the discretion to provide relief to the harmed party using their writ jurisdiction
The entire nation is within the purview of the Supreme Court’s territorial jurisdiction The High Courts only have a little amount of territorial authority

High Court UPSC

High courts are the highest judicial court in a state. The second highest court in the country is High Court. Students should learn about the first high court in India, the total number of judges in the high court and their appointment process, high court establishment, and composition.

High Court UPSC topic is extremely important from the IAS Exam perspective. This topic is relevant and included under the Polity syllabus for UPSC. Candidates should brush up on their basics and commit all the facts to their memory. You can also solve the below previous year’s questions and read important aspects from Laxmikant Polity book.

High Court Sample Questions

Question: The transfer of Judges from one High Court to another High Court may be made by the: (1) President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of that High Court, (2) Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, (3) Governor of the concerned State in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, (4) President of India after consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
Answer: President of India after consultation with the Chief Justice of India

Question: The writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution of India is not wider than that of the writ jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 226 because the High Courts may exercise this power concerning: (1) Civil and criminal matters, (2) Fundamental and other legal rights, (3) Fundamental rights and matters in appeals, (4) Fundamental rights and stay matters
Answer: Fundamental and other legal rights

Question: Which of the following is not the grounds for removal of a High Court judge? (a) Insolvency, (b) Incapacity, (c) Proved misbehavior, (d) None of the above
Answer: Insolvency

Question: Consider the statements: (1) He should have been an advocate of the high court for 15 years, (2) He should have held a judicial office in the territory of India for 10 years. Which are the qualifications of the judges of the High Court? (a) 2 only; (b) 1 only; (c) Both 1 and 2, (d) Neither 1 nor 2, (e) None of the above/More than one of the above.
Answer: (2 only) He should have held a judicial office in the territory of India for 10 years.

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