The Gauhati High Court was established on 1 March 1948 after the Government of India Act 1935 was passed. It was originally known as the High Court of Assam and Nagaland, but renamed as Gauhati High Court in 1971 by the North East Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971.
It has largest jurisdiction in terms of states, with its area covering the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram.
Under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the High Court has power in relation to its territorial jurisdiction to issue directions, orders and writs including writs in the nature of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Quowarranto and Certiorari for enforcement of the fundamental rights conferred by Part- III of the Constitution of India or for any other purpose.
The High Court also has the power of superintendence over all Courts and Tribunals throughout the territory in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. The Gauhati High Court Rules regulate the business and exercise of the powers of the Gauhati High Court.
The High Court has original, appellate as well as revisional jurisdiction in both Civil as well as Criminal matters apart from the power to answer references under certain statures. The Gauhati High Court transacts its business during its working days from 10.30 AM to 1.15 PM during the 1st Session and from 2.00 PM to 4.15 PM in the 2nd Session. The Honble the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court constitutes the Single, Division and Full Benches and a daily cause list showing the cases listed before the Benches is notified by the Registry of the High Court.
The Gauhati High Court as of today emerged from the High Court of Assam. On 9th September, 1947, the Assam Legislative Assembly adopted a resolution that a High Court be established for the Province of Assam. In exercise of power conferred by sub-section (1) of section 229 of the Government of India Act, 1935, as adopted by the Indian Provincial Constitution (Amendment) Order, 1948, the Governor General of India was pleased to promulgate on 1st March, 1948 the Assam High Court Order, 1948, establishing the High Court of Assam with effect from 5th April, 1948, for the then Province of Assam.
Sir Harilal Kania, the then Chief Justice of India came to preside over the inauguration of the High Court at the invitation of His Excellency the Governor of Assam Sir Akbar Hydari and the Premier of the Province Late Gopinath Bardoloi. Sir R.F. Lodge was sworn in as the first Chief Justice of Assam High Court on 5th April, 1948. The Assam High Court initially had its sittings at Shillong but shifted to Gauhati from 14th August, 1948. Later on, the Assam High Court came to be known as the High Court of Assam and Nagaland on the constitution of State of Nagaland with effect from 1st December, 1963. On re-organization of the North-Eastern region by the North Eastern Area (Re-organization) Act, 1971, a common High Court was established for the five North-Eastern States Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura ) and the two Union Territories ( Union Territory of Mizoram and the Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh) and called as the Gauhati High Court.
With the enactment of the State of Mizoram Act, 1986 ( Act 34 of 1986 ) and the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986 ( Act 69 of 1986), the States of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh attained statehood on 20.2.1987. By the State of Mizoram Act, 1986, from the appointed day, common High Court for the States of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram called the High Court of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram came into being. Under the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986, from the appointed day, ie, 20.2.1987, a common High Court for the State of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh came into being.
The Principal Seat of the Gauhati High Court is at Guwahati, Assam. Apart from the Principal Seat, the High Court has 3(three) outlying Benches, viz, Kohima Bench for the State of Nagaland (established on 1.12.1972), Aizawl Bench for the State of Mizoram (established on 5.7.90) and Itanagar Bench for the State of Arunachal Pradesh (established on 12.8.2000). The Gauhati High Court occupied a unique position of being a common High Court of seven States of North East India, till 23.03.2013, the date of functioning of separate High Courts in Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura.
The Gauhati High Court administers Justice in an area having enormous variations. Geographically, it is an assortment of hills and valleys. Ethnically, it is an extraordinary mosaic. The legal and judicial scenario is more varied. Divergent laws govern the people of the region. The indigenous inhabitants of the hill areas are primarily adapted to the conciliatory process rather than adversary system. Some of the customary practices for settlement of disputes practiced in this area are not only expeditious and lasting, but far more efficacious than the system followed in the supposedly advanced areas. The laws applicable to different areas may vary, but the entire area is administered by a common High Court. The High Court is a unique one, whereby a single institution exercises jurisdiction throughout the entire North East region. When the Constitution of India came into force under the provisions of sixth Schedule to the Constitution, District Council Courts were established in the Tribal Areas and as a result the jurisdiction of the Assam High Court was extended to the Tribal Area vide Assam High Court (Jurisdiction over District Council Courts) Order 1954.