How does a High Court in India work? Organisation, Powers, Jurisdiction

Understanding Powers & Roles of High Court in India

The Indian Judiciary has a Supreme Court at the top and subordinate courts. The structure of the Judiciary can be best understood through this image below-

The High Court, as we can see is at the State Level. It is at the highest position in the State.

How many high courts are there?

The Constitution provides for an HC in every state. But, not all states in India have an HC. The Seventh Amendment Act of 1956 provided that a common HC can be established for two or more states and/or Union territory.

India has 25 High Courts in total, the latest being the Telangana High Court.

Who appoints the Judges in HC?

Article 217 talks about the appointment of judges.

Every Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief justice, the Chief Justice of the High court, and shall hold office, in the case of an additional or acting Judge, as provided in Article 224, and in any other case, until he attains the age of sixty-two years.”

Read more: What are the roles of Governor in India? Appointment, Role, Powers

Jurisdiction of the High Court

The jurisdiction of the HC can be divided under the following heads-


  • Matters related to will, divorce, contempt of court and admiralty.
  • Enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
  • High courts of Calcutta, Bombay, Madras and Delhi have original jurisdiction over civil cases of higher value



  • In civil cases, an appeal can be made to the High Court against a district court’s decision. It can be appealed when a dispute involves a value higher than Rs. 5000/- or on a question of fact or law.
  • In criminal cases, an appeal can be made for judgments by Sessions and Additional Sessions courts, when-
  • Imprisonment has been given for 7 years or more.
  • If capital punishment has been awarded.


Article 226 gives the HC to issue writs. The writ jurisdiction of HC is concurrent with that of Supreme Court.

However, the writ jurisdiction of HC is more than that of SC as they can issue writs not only for enforcing fundamental rights but also legal rights. This power is not there with the SC, who can issue writs only for enforcing fundamental rights.


  • The HC superintends and controls all the subordinate courts and can ask for details of proceedings from subordinate courts.
  • It also can transfer cases from one court to another or to itself.


  • The High Court records its judgements and that can be used by subordinate courts for deciding cases.
  • All High Courts have the power to punish all cases of contempt of court.


Any law that is against the Indian Constitution can be declared unconstitutional. This power is given to HC through articles 13 and 226.

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