The Karnataka High Court is the High Court of the Indian state of Karnataka. It is located in Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka. The High Court functions out of a red brick building known as Attara Kacheri. It is in front of Vidhana Soudha, which is the seat of the legislature of Karnataka.The Karnataka High Court is currently functional in Bangalore, Hubli-Dharwad and Gulbarga. The High Court has a sanctioned judge strength of 62.
After the death of Tippu Sultan in 1799, the British recognized the claim of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, son of Chamaraja Wodeyar to the throne of the State. Poornaiah continued to be the Diwan and Barry Close was the Resident.
The State was divided into three ‘Subhas’ each under the control of a Subhedar, who was the executive officer and also the Judge in his domain. ‘Subhas’ were divided into Districts and the latter into Taluks.
On October 21, 1831 the Governor-General of India Bentick issued proclamation and assumed administration of Mysore for East India Company on the allegation that Raja was incapable of handling the affairs of the State. Administration of Mysore was entrusted to a Board of Commissioners which included a Senior Commissioner and a Junior Commissioner. This Board was assisted by Diwan in financial matters and the Resident in political relations of the Ruler. This Board was abolished in June 1832 and administration of the State was entrusted to one single Commissioner.
After the death of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in 1868, the British restored the throne to his adopted son Chamarajendra Wodeyar only in March 1881.
In 1881 the post of the Commissioner was abolished and British Resident was appointed in at Mysore. A post of Diwan was created and he was to be the head of the administrative machinery with a council of two advisors.
The above system of administration continued till the Maharaja executed the instrument of accession to the Dominion of India on 24-9-1947.
Under Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan, administration of Justice was mainly a local concern. Revenue Officers also acted as Judges. It was the duty of the Amils to investigate serious criminal cases and report to higher authorities for decision. There was a Sadar (Chief) Court at the Capital for administering justice in accordance with Mohammadan Law. Qazis in important towns decided matters concerning succession, inheritance and other matters as per the provisions of Mohammadan Law.
During the regime of Diwan Poornaiah and thereafter, due regard was paid to age old institutions and doctrines of Hindu Law. Matters were usually determined according to earlier precedents and practices. Administration of civil justice was conducted in a manner analogous to that of criminal justice. Separate Department of Justice was constituted at Mysore. It consisted of two Bakshis as Judges, two Sheristedars, six respectable persons who constituted a Standing Panchayet, with one Qazi and one Pandit. In this Court, both civil and criminal cases were heard. Matters relating to caste or community were referred for decision to Pandit or Qazi, as the case may be, who were aided by Panchayet. In taluks also, the disputes were settled through the Panchayet either nominated by the parties or constituted by the Taluk authorities. When life or liberty of a prisoner was involved, the case was fixed for final hearing before the Diwan who pronounced his decision in consultation with the Resident. Death penalty was inflicted only in cases of murder or plunder. Theft or robbery was punished with imprisonment and hard labour in pRoportion to the nature of crimes. In cases where traditional laws and customs were not applicable, the courts were to act according to the justice, equity and good conscience.
In the beginning of the 18th century, after the Maharaja assumed the reins of the Government, he established a new Sadar Court presided over by two Bakshis to decide civil suits of the value of more than Rs.â500/-. Below the Sadar Court, there were three inferior courts, each presided over by two Presidents called Hakims. The two inferior courts were empowered to decide ivil suits, one court upto the value of Rs. 100/- and another court from Rs. 100/- to Rs. 500/-. The third inferior court had exclusive powers to try criminal cases, such as assault, robbery and minor offences and submit proceedings to the Bakshis of the Sadar Court to impose punishment. In respect of heinous crimes, the Bakshis would submit a report to His Highness the Maharaja and get his orders for awarding sentence.
In 1834, the entire State was divided into four divisions viz., Bangalore, Nagar, Chitaldurg and Ashtagram. Each division was represented by an European Officer designated as the Superintendent. He was vested with judicial powers in addition to his duties of collection of revenue.
At the Taluka level, Amildar decided civil disputes in respect of the suits upto the value of Rs. 100/-. He was empowered to decide suits upto the value of Rs. 500/- with the assistance of Panchayet. He was also vested with powers to try criminal cases and impose fine upto Rs. 7/- and imprisonment for 14 days. He was the head of the Police force.
The Principal Sadr Munsiff was the Court of the original jurisdiction, as well as, the Court of Appeal. He had original jurisdiction to decide suits involving landed property of the value above Rs. 100/- and not exceeding Rs. 1,000/- and other suits of the value upto Rs. 5,000/-. He was the final Court of Appeal in respect of all the suits except the suits involving landed property. He had also jurisdiction to try criminal cases and impose fine upto Rs. 15/- and pass sentence of imprisonment for 2 years.
The superintendent was also the Court of original jurisdiction in respect of suits involving landed property of the value above Rs. 1,000/- and other suits of the value above Rs. 5,000/-. All the appeals from the lower Courts would lie to the Court of the Superintendent. He was exercising powers as Criminal Court to impose sentence upto 7 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 30/-.
Huzur Adalat comprised of three Indian Judges. It had no original jurisdiction to decide civil suits. It was a Court of Appeal from the decision of the subordinate native courts. Whenever the Commissioner presided in person to hear Civil appeals, the judges of the Adalat acted as assessors. In criminal cases, the Huzur Adalat and the Commissioner had unlimited powers to impose any sentence of imprisonment and fine. But, the decision of the Adalat was subject to revision by the Commissioner. All sentences of death had to be submitted to the Government of India for confirmation.
The Commissioner was the Court of Appeal to decide all appeals from the decisions of the Superintendent and Huzur Adalat.
Panchayet System was widely recognized. Suits were decided with assistance of Panchayet in the Courts of the Amildar, Sadr Munsiff and Superintendent. Five most respectable and intelligent inhabitants who were nominated by the court and competent to perform the duties of the Panchayetdars were permitted to sit in open court with all the facilities to follow the proceedings. Except in cases of glaring injustice, gross impartiality or corruption, it was not deemed advisable to set aside the opinion of the majority of Panchayet.