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High Court


High Court originated historically from the High Courts Act of 1861. During the east india company rule there was a Supreme Court in Calcutta representing the British crown with its jurisdiction over all Europeans living in Bengal and all native citizens of Calcutta only. The highest court of the company's Bengal kingdom was the Sadar Adalat which had two divisions, Sadar Diwani Adalat and Sadar Nizamat Adalat. The Sadar Adalat represented the Company. The judges of the Sadar Adalat were the members of the Covenanted Civil Service. Though the judges of the Adalat consisted of Europeans, the laws that they administered were essentially Indian. The Sadar Adalat had no jurisdiction over the Europeans nor the Supreme Court over the natives outside of Calcutta. Such a duality of jurisdiction was abolished with the abolition of the East India Company in 1858 when the Crown took over the responsibility of administering British India.

High Court Bhaban, Dhaka

The High Courts Act of 1861 provided for one High Court at each presidency of British India. The former Supreme Court and Sadar Adalat were replaced by the High Court. The High Court dispensed justice according to a uniform system of civil procedure code, criminal procedure code and Penal Code. The High Court of Calcutta had all Bengal jurisdiction even after the partition of bengal in 1905. Under the Government of India Act of 1935 every province got a High Court and a Federal Court at the centre.

After the partition of India (1947) a high court was established in Dhaka under the Pakistan (Provisional Constitution) Order 1947. Under the Indian Independence Act, the Constitutent assmebly of Pakistan got the powers and functions of the Indian central legislature under the Government of India Act (1935).

This Act, which became the Pakistan (Provisional Constitution) Order, provided a High Court in each of the provinces of British India. East Bengal, as a province of Pakistan, got a High Court in Dhaka, the capital of the province. The Constituent Assembly amended the Act of 1935 in 1954 and provided that every High Court shall have power throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases any government within these territories writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo-warranto and certiorari or any of them (Section 223A).

The jurisdiction, power and functions of the High Court as laid down under the Constitution of 1956 changed considerably under the Constitution of 1962.

Under the constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh there is no provision for any separate High Court as it was during Pakistan period. Bangladesh Constitution provided that there shall be a Supreme Court for Bangladesh (to be known as the Supreme Court of Bangladesh) comprising the Appellate Division and the High Court Division. The High Court Division shall have such original, appellate and other jurisdiction, power and functions as are or may be conferred upon it by the Constitution of Bangladesh. [Sirajul Islam]