Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sesquicentennial trio

The High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras are all celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2012. The High Court of Judicature at Madras is the 'junior-most' among the three; Calcutta (originally the High Court of Judicature at Fort William) was established on July 1, 1862, Bombay on August 14 and Madras on August 15 of the same year. However, it must be remembered that the Supreme Court of Madras - as befitting the first city of the Raj - had been functioning since 1801, before being abolished to make way for the new structure of judiciary. 

In fact, it was a judge of the Madras High Court, Sir Gilbert Stone, who moved to Bombay in 1862 to take charge as the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay. But as with many other institutions that were born in Madras, the newer ones grew bigger - The Bombay High Court has a sanctioned strength of 75 judges and Calcutta 63, with Madras bringing up the rear with 60. 

The last of the 3 to observe the valedictory of its sesquicentennial is doing it today. Part of the delay was probably because it was waiting for the President of India to be the chief guest at the function. After all, this is a High Court that has had a lawyer who practiced here go on to become President of India - not to mention the only Indian Governor General as well. It is only fitting that Pranab Mukherjee follows S. Radhakrishnan (at the centenary celebrations) and R. Venkataraman (at the 125th anniversary) to be the chief guest at a significant anniversary celebration here!

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