The Lahore High Court is based in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. It was established on 21 March 1919, although its predecessors have been providing justice since 1866. The Lahore High Court has such jurisdiction as is conferred on them by the Constitution or by law (Art. 175(2) of the 1973 Constitution). Article 199 of the Constitution of 1973 deals with the extra-ordinary jurisdiction of the High Courts. The High Court's principal seat is in Lahore with benches in three other Pakistani cities: Rawalpindi, Multan and Bahawalpur.
The history of the High Court at Lahore is spread over the last hundred and fifty years.
By 1830, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the famous Sikh ruler of Punjab, consolidated the innumerable small principalities ruled by independent chieftains in the Province. Before the consolidation, there were no Judicial Courts, no written laws and no established authority to maintain or enforce them. The chieftains decided cases according to their own whims and discretions Certain rules of customs for settlement of civil and criminal disputes through arbitrators governed the field , but they were by no means uniform or reputable.
The annexation of the Punjab by the British was immediately followed by the creation of a Board of Administration in 1849 consisting of three Members. The Board had powers of a Sudder (Chief) Court of Judicature and a Sudder Board of Revenue.
In 1853 the Board of Administration was replaced with a Chief Commissioner, and two Principal Commissioners separately appointed for Judicial and Administrative work. The Judicial Commissioner was the Chief Judge of appeal and his Court was the final appellate Court.
By the Punjab Courts Act, XIX of 1865, inter alia, seven classes of Courts were brought into being in the Civil Jurisdiction. Starting from the Court of Tehsildar at the bottom to the Court of the Judicial Commissioner at the top.
The Chief Court Act, IV of 1866 constituted the Chief Court of the Punjab as the ultimate re>Court of Appeal from the Civil and Criminal Courts in the province. The Chief Court was also vested with Extraordinary Original Civil Jurisdiction and Supervisory Jurisdiction over Subordinate Courts.
In 1867, the Governor General of India in Council was empowered by the Acting Judges Act,.XVI of 1867, to appoint a person to act temporarily as Judge. The member of permanent and ad hoc judges was increased from time to time and by 186 four additional and two for the Chief Court.
In 1877, the Punjab Courts Act, (XIX of 1865) and the Chief Court Act (IV of 1866), were repealed by the Punjab Courts Act, (XVII of 1877), which consolidated and re-stated the law inter alia relating to the Chief Court.
Over the years, it was noticed that the appeals to the Chief Court had increased to astronomical proportions and the work was greatly in excess of what the permanent and additional judges of the Court could dispose of. Though additional Judges had been appointed to clear off arrears, it was thought advisable to give some form of greater finality to the decisions of the lower appellate courts to stem the tide of appeals being preferred to the Chief Court. It was also thought advisable to reconstitute the subordinate courts and revise their scope, powers and jurisdiction.
The Punjab Courts Act, XVIII of 1884, which repealed the Punjab Courts Act of 1877, not only touched the question of subordinate courts, their reconstruction, jurisdiction and powers, but also modified and restated the law regarding the constitution, powers and jurisdiction of the Chief Court as well.
By Act XIX of 1895 the senior most Judge began to be designated as the Chief Judge. In November, 1896, the pay of the Chief Judge was raised over and above that of the other Judges by Rs. 250 per mensem. Previously, the Chief Judge and Judges drew the same salary, that is Rs. 3,500 per mensem. The increase was made consequent on a recommendation made by the Government of India to the Secretary of State for India requesting for permission to raise the salary of the Chief Judge of the Punjab Chief Court to Rs.3,750 per mensem, to be at par with the salary of Puisne Judges in the Chartered High Courts.
In 1899, the Secretary of State for India in Council, by its Resolution 25 April 1899, laid down as a principle that all Chief Justices and Judges of the High Courts in India thereafter to be appointed would be required to vacate their offices on attaining the age of sixty years.
In the same year, the pay of the Chief Judge of the
In 1911 the Imperial Parliament passed the Indian High Courts Act 1911 giving the Royal Sovereign the power, inter alia, to establish new High Courts in British India from time to time as the occasion arose and to appoint temporary Additional Judge for a term not exceeding two years, Since, however, the Chief Court did not come within the category of the High Court, all additional appointments of temporary Judges to the Chief Court were made by the Governor-General under various Punjab Courts Acts enacted in 1884, 1914 and 1918 (as amended from time to time) read with the Acting Judges Act, XVI of 1867.
Chief Court was raised to Rs. 4,000 per mensem consequent on the pay of other Puisne Judges of the Chief Court being raised to Rs, 3,750 per mensem.
Four years later, the Govt. of India Act, was repealed by the Government of India Act, 1915. The new Act provided that all the existing High Courts established by Letters Patent would be treated as High Courts for the purposes of the said act that each High Court, would consist of a Chief Justice and as many other Judges as His Majesty thought fit to appoint, that the Governor-General in council would appoint persons to act as Additional Judges for such period not exceeding two years as where necessary, and that the maximum number of Judges of a High Court including the chief Justice and the Additional Judges would be twenty. The Act also provided that the Judges would hold office during His Majesty's pleasure and that Acting Judges would be appointed by the Local Governments.
The new Act also granted the Royal Sovereign authority to establish High Courts by Letters Patent in any territory in British India and to confer on any High Court so established any such jurisdiction power, and authority as were vested in or might be conferred on any High Court existing at the commencement of that Act. The Letters Patent establishing the Lahore High Court was granted pursuant to the provisions contained in Section 113 of the Government of India Act, 1915.
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