Saturday, 3 October 2015

Oldest high court in India - Mumbai (1878) built by the British- British India

the Bombay High Court - oldest in India. .realestateindia.anandmahal.com
the Bombay High Court.indiaonlinenews.com
One of the oldest High Courts in the country is the Bombay High Court. Its contract was issued on June 26, 1862 and was inaugurated in the same year on August 14. The work on the present building of the High Court was commenced in April 1871 and completed in November 1878. It was designed by British engineer Col. J. A. Fuller  in Gothic revival in the early English style. A total of   Rs. 16,44,528.00 was spent on the building. Mostly lime mortar was used for construction of walls, etc   

Legally  Bombay in 1661,  became a British possession. The island of Mumbai and town constituting a part,  was received by the British as a part of the dowry of the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza, sister of Alphonso VI, the then Portuguese Monarch, when she married King Charles II . Bombay then was little more than a small fishing village.

The 'Indian High Court Act' of 1861, vested in Her Majesty the Queen of England to issue letters patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom to erect and establish High Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. The Indian High Courts Act, 1861 did not by itself create and establish the High Courts in India. The important aim of the Act was to effect a fusion of the Supreme Courts and the Sudder Adalats in the three Presidencies and this was to be consummated by issuing Letter Patent. The Charter of High Court of Bombay was issued on June 26, 1862.
The court building.Mmbai.tripwow.tripadvisor.com
The Court building is an architectural wonder in simplicity. There are two staircases for the justices. The Goddess of Justice (true symbol of justice), is on the battlement on the western front of the High Court building. With her eyes blindfolded, she is  holding the Sword of Justice in one hand and the Scales meticulously even in the other.  Some interesting architectural features of this historical court building is the display of heads of wolves and foxes  in odd nooks and corners. Yet another sculptural feature on the first and second floor  that will get our attention is the adaptation of Aesop's fable of the judicial monkey and the two litigious cats with one eye blindfolded and holding unevenly the Scales of justice. It is believed this feature was the brain child of a parse sub-contractor who was cheated by the British contractor. When the subcontractor went to court for justice, the court verdict went against him. Disgusted and disappointed, the sub contractor vented out his resentment in a sculptural form.

The court building  is 562 feet (171 m) long and 187 feet (57 m) wide.  Two octagonal towers are to the west of central tower. Atop this building are the statues of Justice and Mercy . Apart from Bombay Bench, it also has benches at Panaji, Nagpur and Aurangabad. It can also hear the appeals and review the decisions of the lower courts over the State of Goa, Maharashtra, Union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. In 1995, the name Bombay was changed to Mumbai; however, being an institution it remained as the Bombay High Court.  Justice M. C. Chagla was the first Indian permanent Chief Justice of Bombay High Court after independence (1948 - 1958).  In the colonial days the Letter Patent of the Bombay High Court authorized 15 Judges, but it started with only 7. It is strange, for about 60 plus years thereafter, the High Court managed to function with just 7. The high court building is worth a visit and it will not disappoint you.
Ref:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombay_High_Court