Working of the Bombay High Court


This post has been written by Atharva Naukarkar, a student of Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai.

Courts are regarded as the temples of justice. Any person who is aggrieved by the acts of another or believes that his/her legal right has been violated, approaches the court to seek justice. It is believed that it is very important for any law student to know the basics of law, court and case proceedings. For every law student who aspires to pursue his career as a lawyer and is preparing to develop his career plans, he will be immensely benefited if he is familiar with procedures carried out in the High courts. For the same purpose the researcher has focused on the high court Bombay.

Bombay High Court is located in Fort precinct of Mumbai, and it is the institution of justice for the states of Goa, Maharashtra and also Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli. It is one of the most famous and oldest courts in India. The eminence of Bombay High Court is marked in the fact that the first Chief Justice, the first Attorney General and even the first Solicitor General of independent India, all had their roots in this high court. In total, the Bombay High Court has a strong bench comprising 75 judges and similar to other high courts, the decisions taken by the Bombay High Court can only be appealed for or challenged in the Supreme Court of India. Honourable Mr. ‎Pradeep Nandrajog is the present Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court. The structure of the building is as: 562 feet (171 m) long and 187 feet (57 m) wide and was completed in November, 1878 and the first hearing was held on January 10th, 1879.

As per the ‘Indian High Court Act’ of 1861 passed by the Queen of England under the great seal of the United Kingdom, the High Courts of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were set up. Bombay High Court came into being on August 14th, 1862 and the present building was designed by a British engineer named: Col. J.A. Fuller. The structure follows a Gothic revival architecture dating back to the early English style. Although the name of the city changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1996, the name of the High court remained the same. This beautiful structure built with black stone is one of the oldest and biggest courts in Western India and has benches in Panaji, Aurangabad and Nagpur. Along the west of the central tower, there are two octagonal towers and statues of ‘Justice’ and ‘Mercy’ on the top of this building which serve as a source of inspiration for law abiding citizens.

The court has jurisdiction over the states of Maharashtra, Goa and the Union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The court has benches in Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji.

Bombay (Principal) 35 Mumbai (City), Mumbai (Suburban), Thane, Palghar, Kolhapur, Nashik, Pune, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Satara, Sangli, Sindhudurg, Solapur, Dadra & Nagar Haveli at Silvassa, Daman, Diu.
Nagpur 17 Nagpur, Akola, Amravati, Bhandara, Buldhana, Chandrapur, Wardha, Yavatmal, Gondia, Gadchiroli, Washim
Aurangabad 18 Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Beed, Dhule, Jalna, Jalgaon, Latur, Nanded, Osmanabad, Parbhani, Nandurbar
Panaji 04 North Goa (Panaji), South Goa (Margao)
Total 74  


Located in the centre of India, Nagpur is an industrial and commercial city. Before being part of Maharashtra, the city was the capital of the former State of CP & Berar, later old Madhya Pradesh. Presently, it is the sub-capital of the State of Maharashtra. A High Court was established at Nagpur on January 9th, 1936. Later in years, it was included as a separate bench of 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 of this high court. The foundation stone of the new building (present High Court building) was laid by late Sir Hyde Gowan on January 9th,1937. The High Court of Judicature at Nagpur continued to be housed in this building till the reorganisation of states in 1956. W.e.f. November 1st,1956, eight Marathi speaking districts of Vidarbha formed part of the State of Bombay which came into existence. Remaining fourteen Hindi speaking districts became part of the newly constituted State of Madhya Pradesh with the capital at Bhopal. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh was treated as the replacement of the former High Court at Nagpur.
A bench of the High Court at Bombay began to sit in this building at Nagpur w.e.f. November 1st, 1956 and continues to do so even after the formation of the State of Maharashtra on May 1st,1960. During the year 1960 the strength of this Bench consisted of four Honourable Judges only. However, now the strength of this Bench consists of 10 Honourable Judges and total employees are 412.

The Aurangabad bench was established in 1982. Originally only a few districts of Maharashtra were under the Aurangabad bench. But subsequently, Ahmednagar & others districts were attached to the bench (in 1988). The bench at Aurangabad has 13+ judges. The jurisdiction of the Aurangabad Bench is over entire Marathwada region. The bench also has a Bar council of Maharashtra & Goa office. The Aurangabad does not have a jurisdiction for company law matters.
There was a constant demand of the people of Marathwada region for the establishment of a permanent Bench of the High Court at Aurangabad. Thus, as a result, the State Government first took up the issue with the then Chief Justice R. M. Kantawala in 1977. On March 22nd 1978, the State Legislative Assembly passed a united 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 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. Primarily, the State Government endorsed 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 other at city of Pune, but later in 1981 it was all confined to Aurangabad alone.

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Prior to the occupation of Goa, Daman & Diu the highest Court for the then Portuguese State of India was the Tribunal da Relação de Goa functioning at Panaji. Originally established in 1554, the Relação de Goa used to serve as the high court of appeal for all the Portuguese territories of the Indian Ocean and the Far East, including what are now Mozambique, Macau and East Timor, besides India itself. The Relação de Goa was abolished when a Court of Judicial Commissioner was established w.e.f. December 16th, 1963 under Goa-Daman & Diu (Judicial Commissioner Court) Regulation, 1963. In 1964 an Act was passed by the Parliament which discussed upon the Court of Judicial Commissioner, some powers of the High Court for the purposes of the Constitution of India.
By an act, the Parliament by extended the jurisdiction of High Court at Bombay to the Union territory of Daman & Diu and Goa and established a permanent Bench of that High Court at Panaji on October 30th, 1982.
From its commencement, the then acting Judicial Commissioner was elevated to the Bench of High Court of Bombay i.e. Hon’ble Justice G. F. Couto. The Hon’ble Justice G. D. Kamat was elevated to the Bench on August 29th, 1983. Presently, Goa has two lady judges, Justice Anuja Prabhudesai and Justice Nutan Sardesai who were both District Judges earlier.
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. May 30th, 1987.

The High Court of a state consists of a Chief Justice and other judges as the President of India may deem it necessary for that state. The number of Judges varies in different High Courts. The Bombay High Court has an authorized strength of 94 Judges (71 permanent, 23 additional). At present, there are 67 sitting judges in Bombay High Court, including the Chief Justice. The President of India appoints the judges and the Chief Justice of a state High Court. While appointing the Chief Justice, he consults the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the State. While appointing other judges, he consults the Chief Justice of the High Court and also the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the concerned state. However, their recommendations are not binding upon the President. Every judge of the High Court, including the Chief Justice, holds office till he/she attains the age of 62 years.

Powers of Bombay High Court :

1. Judicial Power
Bombay High Court has different rules for the Appellate and Original Jurisdictions. The Bombay High Court Original Side Rules, 1980 govern the matters coming up under the original jurisdiction, whereas Bombay High Court Appellate Side Rules, 1960 govern the matters that come up for appeal.

Original Jurisdiction
The High Courts do not have very wide original jurisdiction. The original jurisdiction of Bombay High Court extends to the following fields –
i) Cases related to fundamental rights can be brought before the High Courts. The Article 226 of the Indian Constitution empowers the High Court with writ jurisdiction for the enforcement of fundamental rights. The writs of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Certiorari, Prohibition and Quo-Warranto can be issued by the High Court for protecting the fundamental rights of the people of India.
ii) The Bombay High Court possesses original jurisdiction with respect to Civil cases of value exceeding rupees 20,000 or more.
iii) High Courts have original jurisdiction in cases related to such matters as divorce, will- contempt of court.
iv) Election Disputes can also be taken to Bombay High Court.

Appellate Jurisdiction
The appellate jurisdiction of the High Court is civil as well as criminal.
i) Appeals in Civil Cases
In a civil case, an appeal to the high court lies from the decision of a district court, an appeal can also be made from the subordinate courts directly, provided the dispute involves a value higher than Rupees 5,000 or a question of fact or law. Thus, to the high court, an appeal can be either a first appeal or second appeal.
i) Appeals in Criminal Cases
An appeal to the High Court is made if the sessions court has awarded punishment for 4 years or more. All cases involving capital punishment awarded by the session court come to the High Court as an appeal.

Power of Judicial Review
The High Court can declare any law, passed by the State Legislature or any executive order of the State Government, as unconstitutional if it finds the law violative of any provision of the constitution.

Constitutional Jurisdiction
The cases related to constitutional disputes can originate in the High Court. The High Court in such cases can allow leaving to appeal in the Supreme Court if it deems necessary.

2. Administrative Power
i) The Bombay High Court overlooks the working of all the courts subordinate to it.
ii) It makes rules and regulations for the courts subordinate to it in order to ensure the efficient working of these courts.
iii) It can transfer any case from one court to another court and can even transfer the case to itself and decide the same.
iv) The High Court has the power to determine the salary, allowances and other conditions of service of its administrative staff.

3. Court of Record
A court of record is a court whose acts and proceedings are enrolled for perpetual memory and testimony. These records are used with a high authority and are judicial precedents, the truth of which cannot be questioned. Article 215 of the Indian Constitution empowers the High Courts of the states to be courts of record.

4. Advisory Functions
The High Court can offer advice on matters of law / constitution in case the State government or the Governor so desires. The advice given is however not binding on the authority that sought it.


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  7. Admin. (2020, January 29). Original Jurisdiction definition, original jurisdiction of SC, UPSC Indian polity. Retrieved from
  8. Admin. (n.d.). The High Court – Procedures, Jurisdiction, and Types of Cases. Retrieved April 5, 2020, from



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