A Division Bench comprising Hon’ble Mr Justice P.K. Jaiswal and Hon’ble Mr Justice D.K. Singh has junked a Public Interest Litigation seeking renaming of Allahabad High Court to Prayagraj High Court or Uttar Pradesh High Court. The Court found that the writ petition is nothing but a ‘publicity stunt litigation’ which has been filed to get some publicity.
The Brief Facts of Asok Pande (In-Person) vs U .O.I. Thru. Secy. Ministry Of Law & Justice, New Delhi &Ors (PIL Civil No.14171 of 2020) are as follows:
A Public Interest Litigation was filed by a Practicing Lawyer of Allahabad High Court at Lucknow seeking following reliefs:
- Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of Mandamus thereby directing the Respondent No. 1 to re-name the Allahabad High Court as Prayagraj High Court or Uttar Pradesh High Court;
- Issue any other writ, order or direction which this Hon’ble Court deems fit and proper in the facts of the case.”
The Allahabad High Court at Lucknow while considering the prayer mentioned above delved into the History of Allahabad High Court. The Court stated that the history of Allahabad High Court dates back to the Charter of 1600 issued by Queen Elizabeth of England. Pursuant to this Charter “East India Company” was incorporated to trade with the East Indies.
The Division Bench of Allahabad High Court at Lucknow observed that in North Western Province, the only Sudder Courts, which remained, were the Sudder Court of Diwani and Nizamut Adalat for the North-Western Provinces. This Court sat at Agra, although Bengal Regulation-VI of 1831 had provided that it was ‘to be ordinarily stationed at Allahabad. On 24th June 1864, the Secretary of State for India asked the Governor-General in council ‘to take consider the question of establishing High Court in the North-Western Provinces and furnish me with your opinion on the subject at an early date as practicable.
Four years later from the establishment of three High Courts in Presidency Towns, on 16th March 1866 for the North-Western Provincesthe High Court of Judicature was established under Letters Patent, replacing the only Sudder Diwani Adalat and Nizamat Adalat. Letters Patent, as subsequently amended, are the present Charter of High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. Charter mentioned above-conferred jurisdiction upon newly formed High Court in respect of Civil, Criminal, Testamentary and Interstate as well as Matrimonial matters. The first sitting of High Court took place at Agra on 18.06.1866, but in 1868 it was shifted to Allahabad.
With regard to Avadh/Oudh, a Judicial Commissioner was appointed for disposal of Civil and Criminal cases. For Lucknow, a Court of Appeal was established in 1856 with a Judicial Commissioner. Initially, there was only one Judicial Commissioner, but he was not the highest Court of Appeal in rent and revenue cases. System of the dispensation of justice in Oudh/Avadh was different for the reason that Regulations of Bengal did not apply to Oudh/Avadh. Hence like other Non Regulation Provinces, it also remained None Regulation Territory.
In 1871, five grades of Courts were constituted, i.e. (1) Tehsildar (2) Assistant or Extra Assistant Commissioner (3) Deputy Commissioner or Civil Judge of Lucknow (4) Commissioner and (5) Judicial Commissioner. General control over all Courts of first and second grades in any District vested in Deputy Commissioner and control over courts of first three grades, in any Division, vested in Commissioner, subject to the superintendence of Judicial Commissioner.
Court of Deputy Commissioner was Principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction in any district. He could direct business in the Courts of first and second grades to be distributed amongst such courts as he found fit, having regard to limits of their jurisdiction. He entertained appeals up to the dispute of Rs. 1000/- and the case involving more than Rs 1000 were laid before the Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner and thereafter to Judicial Commissioner who was empowered to refer cases, in which he entertained any doubt, to High Court of North-Western Provinces.
In 1902, a new name to two Provinces was given i.e. “United Province of Agra and Oudh”. It became ‘Uttar Pradesh’ on 24.01.1950 under United Provinces (Alteration of Name) Order, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as “Order 1950”). The Government of India Act, 1915 was a consolidated Act and, it replaced the Indian Councils Act, 1861 and the Indian High Courts Act, 1861. Part-9 of the Government of India Act, 1915 dealt with the affairs of Indian High Courts. Letters Patent issued in 1862, 1865, 1866 etc. were repealed and substituted by Part- 9 of the Government of Indian Act. By Section 101(5) of Government of India Act, 1915-1919, the name of ‘High Court for the North-Western Provinces’ was changed to “High Court of Judicature at Allahabad”. The High Court at Fort William in Bengal was made as “High Court of Judicature at Calcutta”.
Court of ‘Judicial Commissioner’ in Oudh/Avadh came to an end with the passage of `Oudh Court’s Act’, U.P. Act No. 4 of 1925 (hereinafter referred to as “U.P. Act, 1925”) which also paved the way for the establishment of ‘Chief Court’ for Oudh, consisting of a Chief Judge and four or more Judges who shall be appointed by Governor General-in-Council. Section 8 and 9of U.P. Act, 1925 provided that `Chief Court’ would be deemed to be ‘highest Court of appeal and revision’ for civil appellate jurisdiction and criminal jurisdiction. By Section 21 of U.P Act, 1925, four grades of Civil Courts in Oudh were contemplated as under:
(1) The Court of the District Judge.
(2) The Court of Additional Judge.
(3) The Court of the Subordinate Judge.
(4) The Court of the Munsif.
Government of India Act of 1915-1919 was repealed by the Government of India Act, 1935. Chapter-II of Part-IX of the Government of India Act, 1935 provided for the administration and powers of the High Court. By Government of India Act, 1935, Chief Court in Oudh was included within the meaning of High Court. Sections 219 to 229 of the Government of India Act, 1935 gave power to British Crown to constitute High Court by Letters Patent for any province or any part thereof or reconstitute in like manner an existing High Court, for that province or for any part thereof or where there are two High Courts, in that province, amalgamate that Courts. The Indian Independence Act was passed in 1947. In 1948, Governor-General, in the exercise of powers under Section 229 of the Government of India Act, 1935, issued U.P. High Courts (Amalgamation) Order, 1948, published in Gazette of Government of India. Clause-III of the Amalgamation Order, from appointed date i.e. 26th July, 1948, provided that High Court in Allahabad and the Chief Court in Oudh shall be amalgamated and constitute one High Court in the name of `High Court of Judicature at Allahabad’. All these enactments have now been consolidated and repealed by the provisions of the Constitution of India which w.e.f 26th January 1950.
Allahabad High Court observed that with the aforesaid historical backdrop, it is evident that the High Court of Allahabad was created by Royal Charter. Initially, it was called the ‘High Court of Judicature for North-Western Provinces’ which had the area of aforesaid Province but Oudh was a different Province, not governed by North-Western Provinces. ‘High Court of Judicature for North-Western Provinces’ subsequently became ‘High Court of Judicature at Allahabad’.
The Court referred to the Provisions of Constitution from Articles 214-231 of the Constitution of India. Further, the Court observed that By virtue of Article 372 until and unless the Parliament amends the amalgamation order, the name of the high Court, which is ‘High Court of Judicature at Allahabad’ cannot be changed.
The Court asked the Petitioner a question during the course of arguments that who could change the name of the High Court, he did not give an answer.
In the end the Allahabad High Court concluded that Courts cannot direct the Legislature to enact a particular law and, therefore, the Court found that the present writ petition is nothing but a ‘publicity stunt litigation’ which has been filed to get some publicity.
The bench further mentioned that If the petitioner is so concerned, he should convince the Parliament for change of name of the High Court. This Court is not empowered to direct the Parliament or State Legislature to enact a particular law and, therefore, the Allahabad High Court found the Petition to be frivolous, filed with the sole purpose of gaining some publicity.
Ultimately the Court dismissed the petition but refrained itself from imposing cost as the petitioner was none other than a practising Advocate of Allahabad High Court.
Case Title: Asok Pande (In-Person) vs U .O.I. Thru. Secy. Ministry Of Law & Justice, New Delhi &Ors
Case No.: PIL Civil No.14171 of 2020
Date of Order: 31.08.2020
Quorum: Hon’ble Mr. Justice P.K. Jaiswal and Hon’ble Mr. Justice D.K. Singh
Appearance: Asok Pande (In Person), ASG and CSC