The establishment of the Bombay High Court Bench at Panaji opened a new chapter in the long and brilliant Judicial history of this Territory. Just before the advent of the Portuguese to India, Goa was ruled by Adilshah, Sultan of Bijapur He was the head of the Sultanate Judicial system, which had, at the top a Qazi. Below the Qazi, there were Judicial Magistrates, such as Vazirs and Amirs vested with original and appellate powers within their territorial jurisdiction. There were also other subordinate Judicial Officers. The Portuguese, at the beginning, did not alter the Judicial system which was in vogue at the time of the conquest of Goa; but gradually, they went on introducing their Judicial system. At the beginning, somewhere in 1526, the usages and customs of the Gaonkars were codified and a chapter was introduced. Later on, a Chief Judicial Authority was appointed known as Tanador-mor and only in serious cases the Chief Captain and the Governor – General of the Portuguese possessions in India were looking into them. Afterwards, the Portuguese appointed a Judicial Officer known as Ouvidor – Geral or Auditor – General. Finally, in the year 1544, a High Court was created and was designated as Tribunal de Relacao das Indias. The said High Court was headed by a Chancellor and had 3 sitting Judges. In the year 1774, the Portuguese Prime Minister Marques of Pombal abolished the Tribunal de Relacao and reintroduced the office of the Auditor- General with all the powers of the High Court. The Tribunal de Ralacao (High Court) was however re-established in 1776 and a Chancellor was to preside over the said Court with a Bench of 5 Judges.
This situation continued to be in force with slight changes upto the time of the Liberation when a High Court Tribunal de Relacao was functioning in this Territory with five Judges and had its Territorial jurisdiction extending over the Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu as well as the Portuguese colonies of Macau and Timor. A Judicial Officer of the rank of a High Court Judge was also functioning in the said Tribunal de Relacao and he was known as Procurador de Rupublica. His duties were multiple, for, besides the duties corresponding to those of the Advocate General, he was also the Legal Advisor of the Government of Goa, Daman and Diu as well as he was a sitting member of the Legislative Assembly and of the Government Council.
After the Liberation, Tribunal de Ralacao de Goa was abolished and was substituted by the Judicial Commissioner’s Court, a Court which has lesser powers than a High Court under the Indian Judicial system.
However, there had been a persistent demand for the extension of the jurisdiction of a High Court to the Union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu and for the establishment of a permanent bench of that High Court in lieu of the existing Court of the Judicial Commissioner. Although the Judicial Commissioner’s Court functioning at those times in Union territory was given certain powers of a High Court under the provisions of the Goa, Daman and Diu (judicial Commissioner’s Court ) Regulation, 1963, it was not a full-fledged High Court. The Judicial Commissioner also did not enjoy those constitutional safeguards which protect the independence of a High Court Judge. It was further felt that the extension of jurisdiction of a High court to the Union Territory including Goa would improve the tone of judicial administration in these Union territories and would inspire greater public confidence. Under those circumstance, jurisdiction of High Court of Judicature at Bombay was extended to the State of Goa and Union territories of Daman and Diu and Court of the Judicial Commissioner was abolished and a permanent bench of High Court of Judicature at Bombay is established at Panaji (Goa) on 30th October, 1982 as per the provisions of The High Court at Bombay (Extension of Jurisdiction to Goa, Daman and Diu ) Act, 1981.
With the passing of Goa, Daman & Re-organization Act, 1987 by the Parliament conferring Statehood to Goa, the High Court of Bombay became the common High Court for the states of Maharashtra and Goa and the Union Territories of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu w.e.f. 30-05-1987.
As per the rules of business i.e chapter XXXI Rule 3 subject to saving provisions spelt out in Rule 4 of the Bombay High court Appellate Side Rules, 1960, jurisdiction of panaji Bench covers the all appeals, applications references and petitions including petitions for exercise of powers under Articles 226 and 227 arising in the State of Goa which lie to the High Court at Bombay.