Thursday, 28 July 2016

Historical High Court building, Kolkata built by the British


Supreme Court of Judicature,Ft. William, Calcutta.1774
en.wikimedia.org
100th Anniversary (1862-1962) Calcutta High Court; issued on Jul 1, 1962; stampgallery.com

 Since Calcutta became one of prominent cities in the British Empire, lots of Europeans moved in for job or  to settle down here and  to do business. So were the companies to take care of the needs of the British India government's contract works, etc and other works. Because of wheeling and dealings by business people, several legal issues cropped up including criminal and civil offenses. Therefore, it became imperative for the ruling government to have a Judicial court established in Kolkata  for quick disposal of pending  cases.

The Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William, Calcutta was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1774. It replaced the Mayor's Court of Calcutta and was British India's highest court from 1774 until 1862, when the High Court of Calcutta was established to settle various disputes among parties through legal means.

From 1774 to the arrival of Parliament's Bengal Judicature Act of 1781 in June 1782, the Court claimed jurisdiction over any person residing in Bengal, Bihar or Orissa during the period 1774 till 1862. There was some conflict over the jurisdiction of this court with the the Supreme Council of Bengal  in the formative stages. The conflict came to an end with Parliament's passing of the Bengal Judicature Act of 1781, an amicable solution was reached to end the unnecessary conflicts. The new act has envisaged the restriction of the Supreme court's jurisdiction  to either those who lived in Calcutta, or to any British Subject in Bengal, Bihar  and Orissa, thereby removing the Court's jurisdiction over any person residing in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.


The courthouse functioned in a  two storied building  built in the Neo-Gothic style by the side of  the Writers’ Buildings. The same building was used as the Town Hall of Calcutta  for a particular period. This historical building was pulled down in 1792 and  replaced by the present building in 1832.
 
the Calcutta High Courtindianexpress.com

The Calcutta High Court, the oldest one in India,  was established as the High Court of Judicature at Fort William on 1 July 1862 under the High Courts Act, 1861. The court came up soon after the British Crown took over the administration of East India company and its misrule that ultimately led to the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 - the worst rebellion by the natives in the entire  British Empire's history. Its  jurisdiction covers  the state of West Bengal and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The seat of the Kolkata High Court is at Kolkata, capital of West Bengal
 The elegant High Court building was built, using the cloth Hall,  Ypres, in Belgium as a model.

Calcutta high court, Kolkata.commons.wikimedia.org
 Barnes Peacock was the first Chief Justice of the High Court when the court was founded on 01 July, 1862. Romesh Chandra Mitter was the first Indian officiating Chief Justice and Phani Bhushan Chakravartti was the first Indian permanent Chief Justice of the court. The longest serving Chief Justice was Sankar Prasad Mitra.

On 20 September 1871 the acting Chief Justice, John Paxton Norman, was murdered on the steps of the courthouse by a Wahabi Muslim and the murderer's name was Abdulla.

 The Calcutta High Court's jurisdiction was extended  in 1953 though an Act to cover Chandernagore (now called Chandannagar) and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as of 2 May 1950. The Calcutta High Court extended its Circuit Bench in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and in Jalpaiguri, the headquarters of the Jalpaiguri division of West Bengal.

Tit-Bits: 
Sir Elijah Impey,wikipedia.
 Above image: Sir Elijah Impey - first chief justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal. First English judge impeached along with his pal Lord Warren Hastings. reason: They tampered with the judiciary. British India.  ............
 
01. About the Calcutta High court, several justices did their job remarkably well but for one justice. Sir Elijah Impey (13 June 1732 – 1 October 1809), a close friend of  Lord Warren Hastings,  was the first chief justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal, In 1775, presiding over the case of one Nandkumar, whose relationship with Hastings was soured, he gave a biased verdict. As a result of mistrial and wrong judgement he went down in history,  as the first British judge  impeached in 1787  along with his buddy Lord Warren Hastings. Nand Kumar, an innocent man was hanged to death for a crime that had not been committed. Sir Elijah Impey made a mockery of the British judicial system and got a bad rap for him and his country of birth.

Angelo-Welsh judge, and a scholar of ancient India.
 guptaranjan.com

02. Sir William Jones (28 September 1746 – 27 April 1794) was an Angelo-Welsh judge, and  a scholar of ancient India. He, with strong evidence, proved the existence of a relationship among European and Indian languages, which would later be known as Indo-European languages. He, along with Henry Thomas Colebrooke and Nathaniel Halhed, founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784, and started a journal called 'Asiatick Researches' and did numerous useful scholarly works. 

03.The court has a increased the  judge strength  to 63. Though the name was officially changed from Calcutta to Kolkata in 2001, the old name is retained by the court as it is an institution.

 04. The bill to rename it as Kolkata High Court was approved by the Cabinet on 05 July 2016 along with rename of its two other counterparts in Chennai and Mumbai

Ref:

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jones_(philologist)

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