Original Jurisdiction of High Court


In India, the courts are organized in a hierarchical fashion, with the Supreme Court at the top, followed by the High Courts of each state and union territory, and district and subordinate courts at the bottom. The original jurisdiction of high court, appellate, and advisory jurisdictions of the Indian High Courts.

Defined Original Jurisdiction

The ability of a court to hear and decide matters without the requirement for an appeal from a lower court is referred to as original jurisdiction. In the Indian context, High Courts also have original jurisdiction, which enables them to hear specific sorts of matters without first going via lesser courts.

Original jurisdictional authority of high courts

In Article 226 of the Indian Constitution for High Courts in States and in Article 227 for High Courts in Union Territories, the original jurisdiction of High Courts in India is set forth. According to these articles, High Courts have the ability to issue writs, orders, or directives to any government, authority, or individual for any reason, including the enforcement of basic rights.

The following are the main elements of the High Courts’ original jurisdiction:

  1. Writ Jurisdiction: High Courts have the power to grant writs such quo warrant, mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, and habeas corpus. These writs are effective weapons for safeguarding fundamental rights and fixing administrative mistakes.
  2. Enforcement of Fundamental Rights: Under Part III of the Constitution, High Courts may hear petitions relating to the violation of fundamental rights. If their fundamental rights are violated, citizens may directly appeal to the High Courts.
  3. Supervisory Jurisdiction: All courts and tribunals operating within their territorial jurisdiction are subject to the High Courts’ supervisory jurisdiction. This enables them to make sure that these lesser courts and tribunals are following the law correctly and working within the scope of their authority.
  4. Public Interest Litigation (PIL): High Courts are able to hear PIL cases, allowing any person or group to speak in court on behalf of individuals who are unable to do so on their own. As a result, more people will have access to justice, and the court will be able to handle matters of public importance.
Significance of high courts’ original jurisdiction

For a number of reasons, the original jurisdiction of High Courts is crucial to India’s legal system.

  1. Protection of Fundamental Rights: It acts as an essential safeguard for citizens’ fundamental rights. When these rights are violated by individuals or by the government, the High Courts have the authority to take immediate action.
  2. Checks and Balances: High Courts serve as a check on executive and administrative acts through its original jurisdiction. They make sure that governmental institutions behave legally and do not exceed their scope of jurisdiction.
  3. Efficiency and speed: Because of the High Courts’ original jurisdiction, cases can be resolved quickly. High Courts can move quickly to provide relief where it is required right away, such as when someone is being held illegally.
  4. Access to Justice: People who might not have the finances or means to directly approach the Supreme Court are nonetheless able to access justice thanks to the High Courts’ writ authority. In doing so, the idea of equality before the law is promoted.
  5. Public Interest Litigation (PIL): Environmental protection, human rights, and social justice are just a few examples of the public interest issues that have been addressed through public interest litigation (PIL) lawsuits brought within the original jurisdiction of High Courts.
Historical Background and Development

The historical development of the Indian legal system provides the basis for the idea of original jurisdiction of High Courts. The British East India Company founded the Supreme Court of Calcutta in 1774, the Supreme Court of Bombay in 1823, and the Supreme Court of Madras in 1801 during the period of British colonial authority. Both original and appellate jurisdiction were exercised by these courts.

The Indian Constitution was adopted in 1950 following the restructuring of the Indian court after independence. In order to maintain their ability to issue writs for the enforcement of basic rights, it preserved the idea of High Courts with original jurisdiction. Through court rulings, the High Courts’ original jurisdiction has greatly grown in both breadth and reach over time.

Problems and Disputations

Although the original jurisdiction of High Courts is essential for upholding the rule of law and safeguarding people’ rights, it is not without controversy and challenges:

  1. Case Backlog: High Courts and other Indian courts both deal with a case backlog. Due to the huge number of cases and scarce resources, justice may take longer than it should, which reduces its effectiveness.
  2. PIL abuse: Public Interest Litigation, which is covered under the original jurisdiction, has occasionally been utilized for partisan or personal gain. Courts must strike a balance between the requirement for public interest remedies and avoiding pointless lawsuits.
  3. Resource Constraints: High Courts frequently experience infrastructure, judicial, and support personnel resource shortages. This may make it more difficult for them to manage cases effectively.
  4. Conflict of authority: On occasion, disagreements over which body should hear a particular case might occur when the original authority of the High Courts conflicts with the jurisdiction of other specialized courts or authorities.


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